Recently I’ve engaged with several people over the topic of codependency. It’s brought up for me the first time I became aware that I was codependent. The awareness of how sick I was filled me with a deep hopelessness. It was like looking in a mirror for the first time and actually seeing yourself clearly. And what I saw was not pretty.
When I say that I was codependent I mean that I was dependent on conditions outside of me to tell me who I was, what I thought, and how I felt. This is a result of my being shame-based, which means that I am missing a basic sense of value, self-worth, self-esteem and importance.
I thought that I was not good enough. When in doubt, I was wrong or it was my fault. And, regardless of the circumstances, I didn’t believe that I had much to contribute. I had such a deep fear of being judged or criticized that I desperately tried to hide for fear that someone would expose what I knew about myself.
Concerning friendships, I couldn’t imagine that someone would like me just because of who I am. So much of the time I created a self that I deemed enjoyable and lovable.
To say I had a healthy identity is a stretch. Being a shame based person my perception of myself was almost entirely negative. So I criticized myself unmercifully believing I could change my unacceptable self.
Some of my symptoms were, low self-esteem, people-pleasing (off the charts!), poor boundaries, issues of control, and dysfunctional communication. Codependents have trouble when it comes to communicating their thoughts, feelings and needs.
It has taken years to be free of that old identity. Honestly there are times I feel the pull of that old broken self wanting to lead me astray and I have to rise up and resist that shame spiral into those feelings of worthlessness. God has and continues to set within me an identity that is rooted in His deep love and grace for me.