I want to be free. Truly free. I don’t want to be caught up constantly in my own thoughts and feelings. I no longer want to carry around the same feelings, frustrations, and pain that I have carried with me for years. I am sure that there are so many of us who want the same thing. At times, we can feel like we are in a cage-emotionally and mentally bound and no matter how hard we try we just can’t break through. I can see freedom but I don’t feel like I can obtain it. But I do know that this is not how God intended for me to live.
I recently started going to therapy and on my second session my therapist said “I’m going to say this and you may say no but I want you to look it up and think about it-Codependency.” And I said “Yes, that’s me.” See at my church we have a group called Celebrate Recovery. So many times people have shared their testimony and how being apart of this group of people all trying to break free of something has really helped them. I didn’t really think too much of it until one Sunday morning, some of the people from Celebrate Recovery shared their testimony on how God had healed them from certain things. As I listened one testimony stood out to me, and it was from someone talking about how God had delivered them from codependency. From that moment on that phrase just stuck with me. I had so many moments when I thought I should have been attending Celebrate Recovery but I talked myself out of it!
But now being in therapy I am ready to face it because I am tired of living this way. I yearn to walk into what God has prepared for me. I know that until I start addressing some of the things that I am dealing with and allowing to hold me back that I will continue to live in the same vicious cycle. For the next few blogs I want to talk about what co-dependency is in hopes that some of the symptoms and how they affect me will help someone recognize these symptoms in themselves and search for freedom. I know that God can heal us and free us of anything but we have to be willing and open to address these issues and the pain we are harboring in order to reach freedom. We can’t want to be free and then not do anything to, well, get free!
The symptoms of codependency are shame and low self-esteem, people pleasing, poor boundaries, reactivity, care taking, control, dysfunctional communication, obsessions, dependency, denial, problems with intimacy and lead to painful emotions. I want to touch on shame and low self esteem which is summarized as “Not feeling that you’re good enough or comparing yourself to others is a sign of low self esteem. The tricky thing about self esteem is that some people think highly of themselves, but it’s only camouflage for feeling unlovable and inadequate. Underneath, usually hidden from consciousness, are feelings of shame. Some of the things that go along with low self esteem are guilt feelings and perfectionism. If everything is perfect, you don’t feel bad about yourself” (whatiscodependency.com).
What stood out most to me in this summary was people thinking highly of themselves but it’s camouflage for feeling unlovable and inadequate- and the statement about perfectionism. I think that I am a great person. I think that I am intelligent, funny, caring, and understanding. I don’t think I’m perfect but often times find myself feeling like I don’t meet the standards of those around me. I feel inadequate. Often times these standards are things I’ve made up! Let’s be real-have you ever found yourself forgetting to do something or making a mistake and then convinced yourself that your husband or coworker or friend is upset with you but they haven’t said anything to you at all? They haven’t even given off the indication that they’re upset?! I convince myself frequently that my husband will be upset with me about something and he’s like “Nope. I think you’re doing great!” I think this goes along with perfectionism. I want to do everything right. Although I know I’m not perfect, I want to do everything perfectly to my or someone else’s expectations. Of course, realistically, I can’t always do things perfectly.
So……listen. I am going to put this as simply as it has come to me…..You can make a mistake, you can disappoint someone, you can unintentionally hurt people, you can do things but not do them perfectly and you are still a great person. You are still intelligent, funny, caring, and understanding. Your mistakes don’t take away from who you are. You can’t make a mistake and then God goes ok subtract the smart or caring characteristic from this person. There is no one sitting around subtracting from your greatness because you aren’t operating in perfect order. If you are struggling with your self esteem I challenge you (and I am going to do this too!) to start leaving notes for yourself. Write down confirmations like I am smart, I am loved, I am successful, etc. And together we can witness to and encourage each other on the growth and change we will see from speaking life over ourselves. Let’s get healed together. Let’s be free!