I’m inspired here at my farmhouse inn, on vacation, our inn with mountain and wooded views out every window. This feels like a retreat space, and in fact, last time we vacationed here, a guest was spending a month on a personal retreat. You had the feeling she’d been through several rough spots, maybe a relationship breakup, and needed a break from the world and return to who she was. Like the relationship might have changed her more than she’d realized. Perhaps a struggle with co-dependency.
And this time, we met a woman probably in her late 50’s, recently divorced, and traveling with a couple, her support, her life preservers, her friends who believed more than she does that she can create a new life. She easily shared with us over a meal that she was building a new chapter and struggles with co-dependency.
Co-Dependency: Always “Recovering”
Until I skimmed the brochure she shared, I didn’t know that co-dependency is considered a compulsive behavior, and so has a 12 step program designed for people to come back from co-dependence and recover.
As with other compulsive and addictive behaviors, you’re never cured. You manage, cope and are in recovery the rest of your life. You have triggers, whether personality types (e.g., controlling personalities) or situations which can rocket you right back to where you used to be.
A Co-Dependent Role
Because we do create it, the “role.”
Every time you give up or give in.
Every time you say “I don’t care. It doesn’t matter. Whatever you want.”
Every time you ignore your feelings, the lump in your throat, the anger welling up in you or the tears you hide.
And so the road back starts with attention. It’s all about paying attention, as so much is.
Where to Pay Attention
Pay attention to how you feel after you give up or give in.
Pay attention to whether you feel like an equal partner in your relationships, at home, at work.
Pay attention to how you feel. This takes practice, because if you’ve been letting other people rule your life, to any degree, then you’ve shut off or at least diluted your feelings. Keep practicing because it gets easier.
Pay attention to how often things go your way, whether it’s what you said you wanted for dinner, or where you wanted to go for a weekend, or whether people at work hear the ideas you express.
Pay attention to your triggers. These are the situations or people that shift how you react, how you show up, the person you share with others.
Because if you can figure out your triggers, then you can watch for them and prevent the old behavior’s return.
I loved looking at this stained glass window at the inn. It reminds me of the rolling, lush green lawn there, which turns into the green fields, and lead up to the blue sky and mountains, over which we see the sun rising and setting. In the stained glass, I can see the straight blades of green grass, the blue skies, and white clouds. I see the sunset and sunrise with red splashes and varying shades of yellowish orange.
Like the path to recovery from co-dependent to a healthy sense of yourself, it’s a long path, sometimes straight, sometimes rolling, with beautiful stops along the way, some brighter than others. And a never ending journey.
P.S. Why was I writing a blog on vacation, you ask. Because I love to write. I love to practice my writing. And I was inspired, so I went with it and honestly, it really didn’t bring my mind back to “work.” I love what I do, and I need the downtime so I can continue doing what I love to do.
Latest newsletter is here. All about having the ‘money talk’ with your spouse or your older parents. Next issue is about our sense of time.