Having grown up in a very dysfunctional family, I have had so many thoughts and feelings to process and overcome. I have been searching for answers to questions I haven’t understood for so very long. The first time I went to a psychologist was in high school. Right there on the door was written, ‘School Counselor,’ so I have been looking for help as to what is wrong with me for a such a long time.
I’ve been seeing psychologists off and on since that time back in high school. Having other people outside of my family to talk to was helpful, but I never could pinpoint what the problem was; why did I feel so devalued and out of place, no matter what I did? I have mentioned in previous blogs that I had a bit of a breakdown back in 2014. It was a scary time for me, finally admitting to myself that I was not okay, and I was desperately unhappy.
At that time, I began seeing the man who has become ‘our family psychologist.’ He has seen all of us at one time or another. I saw him regularly after my breakdown, praying he could provide answers. I made it easy on him and provided to him my story in written form. I have never been one to hide my feelings, and as a writer, my whole life, messed up feelings and all, are in my book, “Proof That I Was Here.” The title alone speaks volumes of how desperately I needed to be seen and heard. The “Lisa Jo” stories serve the same purpose. I genuinely wanted to share my feelings in my stories, hoping it would help others. But it wasn’t until recently that I realized I was still very much in a cloud of confusion even then.
My psychologist told me I have extreme codependency issues, assuming I knew what that word meant. I tried to understand what codependency was, but it wasn’t until now, after being divorced, that I truly get it. The ‘Google search’ definition for codependency is:
“Excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically one who requires support on account of an illness or addiction.”
Without a doubt, this was me within my marriage. No matter what my ex-husband said or did, it was never enough. How could it be? He had no clue how lost I was in my soul. I will give him a pass on those moments when I accused him of not caring enough on certain things, or not understanding me or being able to fill the void I had been carrying all my life.
But now that I am on my own, for nearly a full year now, I am finally understanding what it means to be codependent. It isn’t easy to come to these answers with my two grandsons in the house, since they have needs, and it’s hard to tune in to inner struggles without interruptions. Off and on, I have had moments where I have been truly by myself, and praise God, I am recognizing where I have been codependent.
One area I could see for myself was that if I didn’t have something to look forward to, I would fall into depression. While depressed, making plans seemed to occupy my mind and gave me a purpose. Whether I planned a quick overnight getaway or a trip for a few days, if I had something to look forward to, I was fine. Not only does that not help in the long term, but unless you have unlimited funds, it could cause a financial strain.
After my divorce, I tried the dating site world, seeking the affirmation that was lacking for the duration of my marriage. The ex-husband doesn’t get a pass on that one. I felt ugly, unloved, and unwanted by the time it was really over. The dating sites helped in the way that I was made to feel attractive again, and the fact that I latched on to one person in particular, whose messages were like daily oxygen to me, proved how needy I really was.
Yes, it turned out to be a scam in the end. Hard to explain but it was a little different than your typical scams, but a scam just the same. The crazy part of it is I will forever be grateful because even that scammer made me feel beautiful in a way my husband never did. He made me have feelings that I hadn’t felt in years and made me see what I had been missing and what was still possible in my future. I’ll just say the situation made me see that I don’t need to settle for less than what I want anymore. And yes, even through all this, my God was with me, guarding my heart and protecting me, and placing people in my life that made everything okay.
Ironically, after realizing I had been scammed, pitifully I still longed for those daily conversations. I missed my mysterious friend, and I missed his affirming comments and sentiments. My codependency made me want to converse with someone who was basically a lie. How sad is that?
Recently, while in my house alone, I had nowhere to go, and no one to see. I didn’t need to go shopping for anything, another symptom of ‘needing to keep busy to ignore my issues.’ I remember standing in the foyer of my house feeling completely helpless and lonely. Then it hit me! This is codependency! I have never learned how to just be who I was, where I was, and that being enough! I was uncomfortable with the idea that ‘this is it’ today. No people, no shopping, no planned events, no sweet nothings from a stranger.
At first, I was really upset and wanted to cry my eyes out. But then it occurred to me… Knowledge is power! Now that I finally knew what my psychologist was talking about, I could face it head on, and deal with it! I can’t tell you what a freeing moment this was for me. Now when I feel the loneliness creeping in, I can recognize when it is a codependent moment, and I’m able to deal with it with wisdom. I finally feel in control of those moments. Sure, I get genuinely lonely, but for the first time in my life, I can discern what is really going on.
I have no doubt that my precious Lord has helped me in this. I can’t share enough how necessary it is to be in continual communication with him through prayer and reading his word. I have learned that much of the emotional baggage I carry comes from a childhood that was void of love, and the fact that my dad literally chose another family has caused for me abandonment issues as well. Baby steps, my friend. I am still taking baby steps, but goodness it feels good when you pass over those obstacles in victory.