Think about any time you were codependent in a relationship.
When have you felt abandoned?
When have you been rejected?
How did rejection make you feel about yourself?
These were the questions we explored in this week’s Fit For Service challenge. We peeled back the layers of codependency and the ways abandonment and rejection have played into how codependency has shown up in our lives and relationships.
I knew this was going to be an emotional challenge for me. I’ll get to that in a moment.
Definition of Codependency
There are many definitions of codependency and many ways it can present in the relationships you have throughout your life. One definition that I found and liked is:
“Codependency can be broadly described as an excessive reliance on a relationship to the detriment of a person’s own needs and well being.”Zencare
And we’re not just talking about romantic relationships today folks. Codependency can manifest in any relationship throughout your life: parental, sibling, business, and romantic relationships all apply.
Forms of codependency can include but are not limited to:
- You rely on other people to make your decisions, big or small.
- You’re a people pleaser, easily defaulting to others opinions / wishes / needs without standing up for your own.
- You seek validation or attention constantly from another person for a short-lived sense of love or accomplishment.
- You lack self-trust in the abilities, skills, and knowledge that you have and can’t confidently step forward in your life (goals, work, etc.) without an affirming push or acknowledgment from another person.
- You don’t want to share or communicate your true feelings, desires, or opinions in fear of rocking the status quo.
- You’re afraid of being alone, usually as a result of past trauma or abandonment in your life.
This Fit For Service challenge is forcing me to open some wounds and get real with you all. I wanted to share my experience within these questions with you so that we as an EpicLuv community can grow and heal together on the limitless obstacles we each have in our lives.
The Imprint Belief of Abandonment at Age 7
I remember it so clearly…the look on my dad’s face as he knelt down next to me in the entryway of Child Haven in 1989 and said clear as day, “Tell these people your mommy beats you and you will never have to see them again. I will be back in two days to come get you.”
My parents were going through a bitter custody battle and my dad, who was my hero and I his rock, was leaving me at a children’s shelter.
Oh – I should also mention that he was also unfortunately addicted to drugs my entire life which majorly impacted his behaviors.
Two days came and went. I was a seven year old, scared little girl among other fearful children, wondering what in the hell was going on. And he never returned. Didn’t keep his promise to come back. Immediately I felt I was abandoned.
I was crushed. Devastated. Heartbroken.
Weeks later, my mom and stepdad finally came to pick me up. But the damage was done. From that moment, a core belief system was created in me: everyone I love will leave and abandon me.
I pinpoint this time in my life as the moment I put on my armor for the first time. Armor branded with self-protection and walls of responsibility that I will not let myself feel that pain again.
How Early Abandonment Use To Affect My Intimate Relationships
When the “man” in your life (my dad in this case) leaves, breaks promises, and emotionally impacts you from such an early age, it shouldn’t be surprising that the deep wounds affected my relationships with men later in life.
Through life coaching, wellness training, meditating, researching, and good ‘ole maturity, I am confident in recognizing how early abandonment had affected my relationships – specifically romantic relationships:
- I have dated men that were fully unavailable in some way. Whether it be financially, emotionally, sexually, or even locationally (long-distance), there was a large barrier that had to exist between my feelings and the relationship to protect myself from loss once the relationship would invariably end.
- I sabotaged intimate relationships by pushing away those who got close. Classic sabotage…you’ve seen it before, right? Picking every little thing apart about their personality, lifestyle habits, friendships, and relationships. Over analyzing to the point of exhaustion to make sure I found something that made them wrong or not good enough for me.
The sad part? It’s all done subconsciously. It’s not like I’m this terrible person that sits and judges them full-face, writing down lists of where they are lacking. It would all live in a nice, unspoken crevice in my unconscious library so that when they finally did leave me, I would pull it out from the racks and have proof that I was RIGHT – or at least I thought I was based off what was familiar and comfortable! They weren’t meant to be in my life for “this” list of reasons.
Which Brings Us to Rejection
Abandonment and rejection often go hand-in-hand. They play in the same swimming pool when you explore traumatic, co-dependent, or unhealthy relationship swimming lanes. Fear of abandonment many times can come from experiencing rejection. Rejection can make you feel insecure and distrusting of the world around you.
For me, since I was seven years old, I had limiting beliefs around rejection or abandonment from my partner.
It had been a self-fulfilling prophecy until I started asking for help and doing the inner work. The tools that have helped me to remove and re-frame my limiting beliefs have been NLP Coaching with my Mind Coach Shay from Success Training Co., EMDR with my grief counselor, and much more!
Whenever I have felt rejection in a relationship, it seems to always have been a symptom of the abandonment armor that was plaguing the relationship from the very beginning. I was attracting partners that were unavailable, but the truth was I was unavailable and picking people who were safe to some degree!
How Abandonment and Rejection Have Contributed to My Experiences with Codependency
With such an early foundation of abandonment and rejection in my life, I now recognize the fear-based decisions that I had made in my relationships that have led to codependency in the past.
With this clear view on my past, it’s easy to find where I have looked for validation in the past or tried to love myself based on the love that others gave me:
- I used to depended on others to validate my feelings or give me advice when I lacked in self trust.
- I used to wait or rely on my partners to take me places and do things and not proactively suggest activities. This stemmed from a fear of money as well as being alone.
- I used to validate my relationship by placing him on a pedestal, telling the world the many reasons why he was so great. Realizing this was attention-seeking behavior and trying to make my partner feel overly-loved and validated.
- I used to have a hard time communicating my feelings because on the other side, I believed, was rejection (and other emotions).
- I used to expect my partners to be responsible for initiating critical communication. I was reactionary and could not identify my feelings or want to even bring them up. I would wait until my resentment would boil over then lash out.
Have these sparked a memory, emotion, or thought in you? Can you relate?
I’m here to say there is clarity and freedom from codependency on the other side. It takes some work – like these amazing challenges I am pushing myself through every week – no matter the emotion they bring up.
Through this challenge of exploring abandonment, rejection, and codependency from my past, there are three major takeaways that are rising to the top for me:
- In order to forgive others, I must forgive myself first. Whenever I feel negative emotions towards another human, I go inward first. I forgive myself for the fear that abandonment and rejection is playing in my relationship (among other things), recognize it, and find it that much easier to forgive others.
- I know now that I am safe to communicate my feelings even when I am SCARED as shit. This actually has taught more about myself and has given others around me the permission to be vulnerable with me too. As a result, deeper intimacy happens.
- Ask FOR HELP! Removing some of the strongest negative emotions can take some work. But in the long run, that is why I am here to say that I was able to attract my most recent loving, supportive partnership. I did the work and attracted a man who was fully supportive of me and loved me unconditionally.