I have to start out by saying thank you. I have never felt so encouraged by my writing as I have over the last few weeks as I’ve continued to explore the depths of my codependency and wounds of my soul in an open forum. I endeavor to be as transparent as possible in this journey in hopes that something from my story will resonate with you.
I’ve been thinking a lot of shifting the focus of my blog entirely to this journey, because I consistently get dozens of private messages from people, some I know and many I do not, with each post I write on this topic. Thank you for the commentary and encouragement. I absolutely understand the desire to do so in a private forum, so no pressure to be public with commentary. But your engagement is absolutely appreciated.
I have been working hard over the past months to break down the most unwell parts of my psyche. As I continue to explore the reasons that I am the way I am and why I think the way I think, I realized there are a series of lies I have told myself. Most of these stem from childhood; wounds that I didn’t even realize were wounds.
I’m going to dig into some of the lies I’ve been telling myself, and I’m also working on a follow up post about how I’ve tried to compensate for these lies in my “superwoman” ways, which is insanely unhealthy. But that connection actually- looking at each of the lies and seeing how I responded to them- has been massively eye opening. And therapeutic, honestly. I’m curious if you relate to any of these!
I am not [____] enough OR I have to be everything to everyone.
Strong enough. Pretty enough. Smart enough. Working enough. Easy going enough. Talented enough. Funny enough. Sexy enough. Wise enough. Doing enough. Stable enough. Giving enough. Fit enough.
All of these things are lies that I have told myself. Here’s the scary part: I’m not even aware that I do this, that’s how ingrained in my subconscious they are. Somewhere along the line I fell into the habit of telling myself these things, and used that as a reason to deprive myself of love.
I am aware these are thoughts I’ve had, but I’m not actively aware of when exactly I say this to myself. That’s how “normal” this lie has become. That leads to me thinking I need to be superwoman.
I need to be everything. To everyone. I am one person. I can only be in one place at a time. I am not superwoman and I no longer want to be. I don’t have to be therapist, wife, substitute parent, best friend, paramedic, spiritual guide, and lover to someone. I can just be Krista. Wife. Or Friend. Or Mom.
The most healthy relationships in my adult life today are those that I can just be me with- not that a relationship can’t have different dynamics, but that it isn’t a regular part of it. I have to say this is most applicable to my relationship with my dad, admittedly one that hasn’t always been healthy. I truly feel like I am just daughter to my dad. I can be supportive. I can be considerate. I am caring. I am often vulnerable. I am honest. I am not afraid of how he will respond when I am honest. 60% of the time we don’t even agree on things. But we maintain respect for each other, particularly honoring the parent/child relationship, even though we’re both adults.
I AM enough. I don’t have to be anything other than me to the people in my life.
I need to give something in order to be worthy of someone’s love.
I am lucky to have been blessed with a decent brain, a big heart, and with a knack for being resourceful. Somewhere along the way, that became perverted and taken to the extreme, where I feel the need to use my head, heart, and resources to help other people. Maybe, just maybe, that wouldn’t be completely unhealthy on its own. However, I took it a step further, and started to associate someone’s willingness to love me with my ability to deliver something for them.
The best gift someone ever gave me was telling me that I didn’t need to be their superwoman; that they weren’t interested in taking anything from me and that I was loved despite my desire to give, not because of it. You know who you are; thank you.
I do not need to give anything to be worthy of love. I can choose to love and/or allow someone to love me, but I do not need to “earn” anyone’s love.
I can’t afford to have emotions AND I need to be prepared for anything.
Over most of the last decade, I haven’t given myself space to be human. Humans mess up. Humans have bad days. Humans cry. Humans occasionally drink too much. Nope- not this human. I couldn’t afford to have emotions.
There was one single day over three pregnancies and postpartum periods that I allowed myself to break down and cry; some of you witnessed it because I posted a video from the hospital when I was there with the flu and just completely overwhelmed. It was the most response I’ve ever gotten to something I shared on social media. Not once did I allow myself to be completely irrational because I was overrun with hormones shifting and essentially single parenting despite being married. Almost never did I allow myself the room to make a mistake, although I made plenty of them. I didn’t think I could afford mistakes. I couldn’t afford to have lower inhibitions and have too much to drink because I never knew what crazy thing was going to happen next.
At first glance, being prepared doesn’t sound like a bad thing, right?
When you’re working with an ongoing dynamic of addiction, spiritual unhealth, depression and narcissistic love bombing, that can take “being prepared” to a scary level as you try to control the inherently uncontrollable. I overcompensated by being as ready as I could be for anything. I can’t wait to tell you some of the actual crazy crap that I did in my pursuit to be ready. It’s both incredulous and incredibly sad that I went to those lengths. I knew what I was doing, but it’s part of the trauma bond- it’s very difficult to break until you are able to fix the underlying causes.
I am human, and it is okay for me to not be okay. Preparing for chaos doesn’t make the chaos go away.
I am an inconvenience.
Because I have felt generally unworthy of someone’s love, or time, or attention, I told myself I was an inconvenience to people. I would shut up when I should otherwise speak up (if it came to my needs, not others) because I didn’t want to be annoying. I would be agreeable to things I actually had strong opinions on because I didn’t want my needs to be ahead of someone else’s. I minimized my feelings, to the extent I didn’t even recognize them anymore, so that I didn’t have to burden someone else with them.
And incredibly, I pretended like I was okay- even went so far as to convince myself I was okay- when I often wasn’t. Never was this more true than back in late 2015 and most of 2016 when I lost several people really close to me because I was trying so hard to be okay.
What I think, feel and want matters. I am not inconvenient to people that love me.
I am powerless AND It will be my fault if ___ happens.
When you feel like you have little control over things because of the chaos that spins around you, you feel very powerless. You also cling to any small piece of control you can find, no matter where you find it. Things that are utterly unimportant become important just because they mean you have some semblance of control in what feels like a tornado of situations.
This one is especially hard for me. One of the guiding principles of Al Anon is “I didn’t cause it. I can’t cure it. I can’t control it.”
I am so glad I learned this a few years ago, although it might have done me well to hammer this into my brain back in my childhood years. This, like many of the lies I tell myself, is inherently a battle for control. I used this example last year in a post about codependency…
Your friend is drunk and wants to drive home. You don’t want anything bad to happen to him or anyone else; you take his keys so he can’t try to drive home. Friends do that for each other.
Next week, your friend drank too much again and wants to drive home. You still don’t want anything bad to happen to him or anyone else, and your friend is a little more belligerent because this just happened last week. You take his keys so he can’t drive home.
A few weeks after that, the same situation happens again. You can continue to take the keys from your friend so he can’t drive home, essentially making sure that there isn’t an end result that is tragic for him or someone else, but what about the times when he drinks and you’re not around? It doesn’t mean that you should abandon your friend, but you probably need a boundary and the awareness that you are not responsible for their outcome. You can set a boundary that you will not drink with him anymore. You can set a boundary and not hang out with him anymore until he seeks some help. Those are things you can control. Those are outcomes you can control. You cannot control whether your friend is eventually in a car accident.
It took me YEARS to understand this. Lots and lots of years after quite literally trying to bubble proof the world around someone so they would not destroy their life (or someone else’s). I did this in a few other relationships as well, even outside a romantic relationship. Of course I didn’t want anything bad to happen. Of course I didn’t. But it wasn’t my job to make sure that it didn’t. I’ll tell you about the breakthrough that I had in the follow-up post to this. It was among the most difficult days of my life.
I am not powerless, but there are a lot of things that are out of my control. I will accept that and not try to control them. I am not responsible for the destruction someone else’s behavior causes.
What kind of lies do you tell yourself? It took me really identifying some of my core patterns of behavior to identify the lie that caused me to act a certain way. And now I need to reprogram that with truth so that my thoughts and actions come from a healthier place.