The root of codependency is the fear of abandonment. In order to move away from codependency, you need to believe in yourself and value yourself enough to know when to walk away, especially if the relationship is toxic. Individuals who fear abandonment often end up staying in unhealthy relationships far too long. The irony here is that codependent individuals often end up attracting selfish individuals that exploit their vulnerabilities. They know they can get away with abuse and this reinforces further abusive behaviour.
Emotional abuse can be subtle
Emotional abuse is subtle. It involves another person highlighting your insecurities to keep you emotionally unsettled. Emotional abuse means you end up as the emotional punching bag for your partner’s irritations and frustrations with their own life. When things aren’t going well for them, they will find ways to make you feel bad about yourself. They have a low tolerance for stress and frustration and a codependent partner is an easy and accessible target.
Knowing that they can unsettle you or highlight parts of your life that don’t measure up (or that they know will be a sore point for you) to ease their own frustrations. This negative projection is a form of emotional abuse. A codependent person often ends up with someone who is self-absorbed and only wants to attend to their needs.
Instead of supporting you and building you up, they will slowly but surely wear you down. If they aren’t happy, you better not be happy either!
Killing your spirit
Emotional abuse comes from a person who feels empty on the inside. This means they blame others for their own feelings of inadequacy and build their identity on external things – such as their partner, their success, financial status etc. They will try mould you to make them feel good about themselves. They want to dominate and control and be the ‘top-dog’ in the relationship. Codependents are frightened of rejection and abandonment and are therefore much easier to mould. Passivity seeps in and you lose your ‘voice’. A codependent person fears being alone and abandoned to such a degree that they will accept the abuse and justify it.
What to do – trust your instincts
Listen to your emotions and trust your instincts. What was your anger trying to say? Do you deserve better? Don’t accept shame and blame. A narcissist will make you constantly justify who you are and this will prevent you from finding a way to restructure your life
What do you want?
If you want to move on – ask yourself? What are my values? Who am I? What do I want? Begin redefining yourself and your future. It’s necessary to have your own preferences and honour them. Remember that you were once happy without this person that belittles you and you can get there again. You will go through a tough emotional time but this is when we grow the most – see my post of post-traumatic growth.
Let go of negativity
A narcissist still has a hold over you if you care about what they are doing. Do you stalk them on social media? Are you glued to WhatsApp – checking when they were last online? You need to let go of that and foster indifference to truly move on. Go no contact if possible.
Prepare a game plan to let go of any emotional connections to your former partner.
Use the things that didn’t work in your old relationship to inspire you to find something better – that brings out the best of you. That supports you, values you, and helps you to self-actualise. Perhaps write a list of everything that went on in the relationship to remind yourself of why you need to leave (or stay away).
There is nothing wrong with you
You may start wondering if you were the horrible person. If you react to something your partner does and you find they turn it back on you. When you explode or react – you will be judged. You are responding to their unfair behaviour – it was started by them. Don’t forget that. It’s not your fault.
Being alone (or single) doesn’t mean you are unloveable – it means that you finally value yourself enough and you are connecting with the ‘healthy adult’ within you.
Will I ever find love again?
The best growth in life comes through trials and trouble – in the aftermath of pain and difficulty. If you can take your life to a place where you are true to yourself, engage in self-care, and focus on your own needs, you will blossom. Being authentic and being happy in yur ‘own skin’ is highly attractive.
Take some time out
You could have been brainwashed, you may have a warped view of yourself. This leaves you feeling weak and dependent. Learn to re-establish your good interpretations of yourself. Focus on your strengths and undo their narrative. You may have had gaslighting going on, blame-shifting triangulation, stone-walling and refusing to be accountable towards you. This is psychological abuse.
Pull back and find an understanding of a healthy life and healthy relationships.
Create healthy boundaries
Know that you know what to look for, create health boundaries for yourself. For example – I will not let others take out their frustrations on me or I won;t accept a relationship with someone who only thinks about themselves and doesn’t take an interest in my life. Look out for the early warning signs. If they dominate the conversation or only talk about themsleves and don’t ask questions about you – take note. Let go of the need to fix others and learn to honour what you need and want. A healthy relationship is all about give and take.
You can choose the life you now want, you can learn from your painful past to find what works for you. You know what doesn’t work for you.
Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash