This post is part of a three-part series where I have been releasing the entire 1st module of my new digital course, “Untying the Knots of Divorce and Stepping into Your Purpose.” So if you missed parts 1 & 2, you might want to start there first.
If you are all caught up, I hope you are enjoying the course and have gained some awareness around what got you to this unconscious place in your relationship. Please make sure you have downloaded the journal exercises that go along with the module. These exercises are going to help untie the knots and get you closer to living your purpose.
Module 1 is all about Awareness. As I mentioned previously, we can’t change anything if we have no awareness of what needs to be changed. Week one was about Recipe for Change & How Did You Get Here? Week two was about Language Surrounding Your Divorce Experience & Do Your Beliefs Need an Upgrade?
Let’s dive right into part 3!
Module 1: Awareness: Divorced, but Energetically Married
Now we are going to talk about being divorced, but energetically feeling married.
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? That would be 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 some people 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 follow.
A codependent relationship is equivalent to a caged lioness taken out of the wild… she’s lost her way. What once was a beautiful uncaged creature, is now dependent on others to care for her. The lioness is at the mercy of her surroundings, and her real power forgotten.
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 would still be codependent in divorce. You may continue to 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. That’s 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. We had what I call a “checklist relationship,” we checked all the expected boxes to create the perfect life. It was as if we had morphed into the same being. It was not until my mid-thirties that my soul craved autonomy. It desired 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. It 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 see that I was powerful.
I NEEDED HIM. I STILL NEEDED HIM.
I so freely gave that energy to him, screaming to the universe that I wasn’t enough. I was saying that I needed someone else to feel worthy of being 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. What people don’t realize is that you can be physically divorced but still energetically married. You can be energetically attached to a person you previously bonded with intimately. Your souls connected at one point, and in divorce, it doesn’t disappear after signing divorce papers. It takes awareness, it takes work, and it also takes courage to stand in your strength.
I finally understood how I was giving my power away and what I needed to do to reclaim it. I realized that I wasn’t in a codependent relationship with my ex when he no longer triggered me. I knew I was free because no matter what he said or did, I no longer reacted to it. I stopped giving my energy away and began to start remembering who I was and just how powerful I was.
Module 1: Awareness: Learned Helplessness
Now we are going to talk about learned helplessness.
Let me start by describing what learned helplessness is. Learned helplessness occurs when a person begins to believe that their actions have no effect on the environment. A person that has learned to be helpless starts to think that what they do doesn’t matter, so they stop trying. This inaction can lead people to stay stuck and feel powerless to change and grow.
Why is this important in untying the knots of divorce? I have worked with far too many people that have been “taken out or paralyzed” by divorce. The whole divorce experience causes them to go numb, to feel stuck, to want to surrender and crawl under a rock. It all starts to feel overwhelming, and they feel powerless for change. Even the thought of looking over divorce documents causes their anxiety to skyrocket. Learned helplessness will prevent you from taking any action.
Learned helplessness didn’t just show up in divorce. Divorce was not the condition that created this. I want you to think about this. Where else do you feel helpless to create change? What takes your power away? What causes you to shrink and avoid the situation? Does money or management of money cause you to feel fearful? Do you avoid family conflicts at all costs? Do you silence your voice out of fear of being judged or criticized? Does trying new things overwhelm you due to fear of failure or looking stupid?
You see, as I mentioned, how you do anything is how you do everything. If you felt helpless growing up or criticized continuously for never doing anything right or told you needed to be perfect and not make any mistakes, so you never tried, you may have learned helplessness. If so, the process of divorce can feel like a huge undertaking. “I can’t deal with this; It’s all too overwhelming, I can’t do this.” Sound familiar?
Here is the truth–YES YOU CAN AND YES YOU WILL! You will get through this: one day at a time, one document at a time, releasing one belief at a time, untying one knot at a time, trying one new thing at a time, and letting go of what no longer serves you by taking one step at a time back towards your truth. To quote Glinda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz, “You had the power all along, my dear,” you just needed to remember.
HERE is the link for the Youtube video for part 3!
This is the end of module 1, but don’t worry, I’m not leaving you hanging. Next week I will have some great news about where to go from here, so be sure to come back!
Just in case you missed the other two!
Part 1: https://marisalupocoaching.com/2020/10/07/free-sneak-peek-to-the-digital-divorce-recovery-course/
Part 2: https://marisalupocoaching.com/2020/10/15/free-sneak-peek-to-the-digital-divorce-recovery-course-part-2/