So in that vein of discovering what motivates us, I wanted to speak to you about a book I just finished called, “Co-Dependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Care for Yourself,” by Melony Beattie. I was led to read this book out of a sense of desperation. After my husband and I separated I was, for the first time in years, single and living totally alone. I had lived alone back when my son first went off to college, but I hated it. This time I wanted to learn to like it, but first I knew I had to figure out how to like myself more. Ever since my other son died two years ago I have really been down on myself, bearing the weight of guilt that comes with grief when someone you love kills them self. I began to really watch myself, how I related to other people, my reactions to situations, and I saw that I was a controlling person, although I cloaked it under the umbrella of trying to help. The control I needed was not actually about other people. It was me who felt out of control. This much I knew before I cracked open that book. But let me tell you, I didn’t have a clue how co-dependent I was or how much better I would feel after reading the book. I see that I am not so “out there” after all, for one thing. Millions of people are co-dependent, and the good news is that you don’t have to stay that way.
I learned that most co-dependents come from dysfunction families, of which I am one of those people. Learning to be a caretaker, someone who could be depended on to save the day, learning to please others to win approval, is something co-dependents often learn when they are young and growing up in their dysfunctional homes as a coping mechanism. Well that describes me perfectly! And reading those words gave me so much hope, because behind them came suggestions on how to change.
I don’t need other people’s approval to be happy. I need MINE. I don’t have to give and give to be liked. If I am loving myself, people will be naturally drawn to me. I don’t have to be in control of anything but myself. I don’t have to be reactionary. Nothing is the end of the world except the end of the world. I can trust myself to make good decisions. I am not helpless, nor am I am victim.
I feel the yoke of guilt and shame I have carried all my life being lifted daily, and I can’t tell you how free I am feeling. Of course, it will take time to undo behaviors that are almost as old as I am, but I am being patient with myself. Now that I am armed with knowledge I feel empowered to finally be free of the need to please.
If you see yourself in this article, by all means PLEASE get this book and read it. I bought it used on Amazon for around $6.00. The best money I have ever spent. I am going to read it again. That’s how good it is. This journey of life can be heaven or hell. The last few years have been hell. I am so outta there!