Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Out of Bounds

Hi.  I'm Judy and I'm a recovering codependent.  

Part of the life of someone who is recovering from codependency is learning where others stop and the self begins, and where the self stops and others begin.  To an active codependent, there IS NO LINE.  Others' feelings and opinions can change the way a codependent feels.  This is because codependents have lost themselves.... lost themselves in other people.  There are those who would say, "Well, what's wrong with that? aren't we supposed to be selfless?  giving?"  

I would say - very cautiously - that in order to be selfless and giving, one first has to have a self to give away.  As a codependent person, I had no idea who I was.  I was a chameleon, changing who I was depending on who I was with.  I gave and gave and gave ... and resented those to whom I gave because they came to expect it, took me for granted.  I considered myself to be generous to a fault and supremely loyal. I marveled that after all I did to help people, they either walked all over me or pushed me away.  The problem was that I was generous and loyal because I needed others and their approval to complete me.  I was addicted to the high regard of others.  This is not selflessness. This is insanity.  

The process is multi-faceted.  However,  in the early stages of my recovery, when I began to realize that there was a distinction between others and myself (big revelation, right?), and that in crossing these boundaries each was not respecting the other, I started to mark out some boundaries for myself for the first time in my life.  In doing this - in combination with other necessary things - I began to heal.  

It is still ongoing.  And it isn't without its challenges and gaffes.  Codependency, like any other addiction, is cunning, baffling, and powerful.  It disguises itself to regain a foothold in the psyche.  It convinces the recovering codependent that he or she is doing the right thing, For example, one of the lessons we must learn in recovery is how to detach, how to let people be who they are and let go of the compulsion to change them.  If I'm not careful, however, I can let this preoccupation with someone else's boundaries quickly turn into a reluctance to set any of my own... and I'm back into letting people walk all over me for fear of them feeling pressured.  I forget that part of letting go is also letting others bear the responsibility for their own actions; if their actions are harming another person (even if that person is me) they need to know that.  When I allow them to take liberties, I lose ground in my recovery.  Resentment builds up in me because my boundaries are being crossed; others are taking advantage (whether intentionally or not) of my own fear of slipping back into codependency and I end up slipping back into codependent behaviors - how ironic!  

It's okay to set boundaries - and it's okay to maintain them.  It's okay to say what I want and need.  Honestly, graciously if possible.  It's okay to say no, to say when someone has crossed a boundary.  It's part of growing up.  I don't need to take anyone on a guilt trip; I do need to tell someone who has gone out of bounds, and tell them where the line is.

No comments:

Post a Comment