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There are many ways to describe Codependency, but for the sake of intimate relationships, I will use this one.  This definition was given by Scott Wetzler, Ph.D., “Codependent relationships signify a degree of unhealthy clinginess, where one person doesn’t have self-sufficiency or autonomy. One or both parties depend on their loved one for fulfillment.”

I believe we are all codependent when we are not standing in our truth.  When we don’t know who we are we look to those closest to us, in this case, our partner, to fulfill our own needs: financially, emotionally, mentally, and physically.  That’s a tall order! Imagine one person having the job of making you happy? This is like saying your partner is your one-stop-shop for meeting all your needs, and when they don’t meet all your needs because that is an impossible undertaking, you create toxic expectations.  

The truth is nobody can make you happy.  Nobody can “complete you.” Sure there are some people that like having a codependent relationship, but typically it’s because they want power over you.  Eventually, the soul craves freedom; freedom to be who you are, and if it doesn’t get that freedom, fulfillment will never come.   

So why bring up codependency in the aftermath of divorce? Because how you do anything is how you do everything.  If you were codependent in your marriage you will still be codependent in divorce. You may still be very codependent with your ex-spouse. Most marriages do not come to an end consciously on their own, many times one of the parties doesn’t even want to divorce. They may not know who they are without their partner, because their identity is tied to who they were as a couple.  This is by definition what it means to lack autonomy…”I don’t know who I am without you.”    

I get it.  I started dating my partner when we were teenagers.  We were just kids. We had no idea who we even were yet.  We were together for 19 years. It was as if we had morphed into the same being.  It was not until my mid-thirties that my soul craved autonomy. It craved to know who it was, apart from being a wife and a mother.  I had no idea who I was because I depended on my partner to carry me…to carry us. It was unfair, not only to him but to my spirit.

It didn’t stop there.  Even in the aftermath of divorce, I was still codependent.  There I was, wanting out of this marriage, craving the freedom to be who I was, yet still giving my power away.  This was so subtle that the naked eye couldn’t even catch it. 

I needed him to make me feel significant, I needed him to validate me as a good mother, I needed him to respect me, I needed him to know that I was capable of being on my own, and I needed him to know that I was powerful. 

I NEEDED HIM.  I STILL NEEDED HIM.

This was the energy I was giving him, the power I was giving away as if I was screaming to the universe that I wasn’t enough.  I was saying that I needed someone else in order to feel worthy, in order to be fulfilled. How was it that I needed someone so much that I was trying to separate from? It was the ultimate contradiction.  My soul needed autonomy, yet my ego needed validation to feel worthy. It was a need that was impossible to fill by someone else.   

This energy was the ignitor for a tug-of-war throughout my divorce, and it kept me energetically attached…it kept us attached. This is what it means to be physically divorced but still energetically married…to be energetically attached to a person you were previously bonded with intimately.  Your souls connected at one point, and in divorce, it doesn’t disappear after signing divorce papers. This takes awareness. I talk about this in more detail here are-you-divorced-but-still-feel-like-you-are-energetically-married 

I finally realized all the ways in which I was giving my power away, and what I needed to do in order to reclaim it. You know when you are no longer codependent when you are no longer triggered, and they no longer have the power to bring you to your knees. When nothing anyone does, says or takes away causes you to react any longer.  No more energy is given away, no more power is handed over carelessly. You begin to start remembering who you are, and you remember how powerful you are.  

I was done playing tug-of-war.  I spent too many years holding onto that rope so tight that letting go felt like absolute freedom to my soul.  It was a freedom that I never knew existed but internally remembered it as my true essence. Freedom came from knowing that I didn’t need anyone to make me feel worthy and that it was time to rediscover who I was and what I was capable of in this lifetime.  This came from slowly disconnecting to what was taking my power away and reconnecting to myself, to my truth.