I’ll be the first to tell you that I didn’t love myself for many years. I had little to no sense of self-worth. I projected an image of strength and confidence – all of which was real – and thought that meant I valued myself.
Spoiler alert: That’s not what loving yourself means. That’s not how you respect yourself. That’s definitely not what it’s like to have self-worth.
I developed a pattern of relating to others in childhood based on a performance-based mindset. I thought that I had to “perform” in order to get or receive love. And, as I grew up, I only expected from others when I had something to offer. I had an extraordinarily messed up view of what love and healthy relations meant. Time, resources, energy, intimacy… these were things that I offered to others in exchange for love.
It wasn’t until I continued to explore my codependency through therapy and support groups, followed by having children, that I really started to understand the harmful effects of my behavior on my children. That’s right, my behavior.
By continuing to stay in a relationship with someone that is incapable of giving or receiving love, honoring boundaries, or respecting us in any way, we are teaching our sons that it is okay to lie and scream and cheat on and abuse their partners and our daughters that it is okay for their partners to treat them that way. Unequivocally, it is not okay.
Relating in codependent ways is extraordinarily unhealthy. Whether a caretaker or a rescuer, codependency is dangerous. And unfortunately, it’s something that is most likely to be learned in childhood and taken into adulthood.
I didn’t love myself enough to love myself in my relationship. But I damn well love my kids enough to figure it out how the heck to do so — to learn, and learn as fast as I can, and reinforce that learning every single day for the rest of my life with podcasts, books, articles, therapy, and conversations with accountability partners. I’ve spent hundreds of hours over the last two years in trying to achieve that goal. Thousands of dollars to achieve that goal. And I damn well am going to get there.
Our children are watching. Our children are listening. Our children are modeling our behavior.
Our children need us to be healthy, and interact in healthy ways with the other adults in our lives.Tweet
If we’re unable to do it for ourselves, as many codependents are, particularly early on, let’s do it for the kids.
Have a great day, everyone.