When I first met my previous partner, I did not know I was codependent.
Didn't have an idea of what codependency was.
I had no idea that there was a Conscious way to be in a relationship.
I had a pretty okay idea of what I was looking for, playing it in a way that said I would know it when I felt it.
Nobody had explained to me how to manifest the life, or partner I wanted.
I hadn’t been asked about wounds from previous relationships.
None of it.
All I knew was that something needed to change in a big way.
Not even having been on dating apps long, I was tired, from a really deep place, of swiping to try to find something that may turn into a relationship I wanted to stay in. I was reeling from a series of life choices that hadn’t worked out, felt a bit lost, and wondered if there was any hope in the digital dating world for real connection.
I met nice men. I mean genuinely kind, respectful, polite guys who did not leave me with
nightmare stories to tell my friends. I enjoyed myself with them on some level, but knew that they just weren't for me. And already having been a believer in karma at that time, I told them how I felt, or didn't feel.
During this time, though I didn't realize it at the time, I had established my ability to give a ‘hard no’ to potential candidates for my next relationship. I was honest, I was kind, but I was real and true to myself.
Though tempting at times, I wasn’t going to settle.
And that felt like self love, or at least some small act towards it.
After a few months of swiping, chatting, etc., I was exhausted. It was taking up my time, my
energy, my emotions, and was not fulfilling in any way. I decided, from perhaps more of a cynical place, that I wasn’t going to do this, wasn’t going to put myself out there in a dating world that made absolutely zero sense to me anymore if I wasn’t going to meet my true match.
Just before I deleted the apps for good, I started a slow conversation with a guy who, from his photos and self-description, was attractive. I liked what I saw in his bio, he had taken the time to fill it out and be honest, and I could see his sense of humor in his words too.
On paper, so to speak, he looked good.
Our conversation was interesting, it held my attention, but we would go hours if not
days without exchanging. That was fine with me—I was already partially checked out anyway, and was operating under the assumption that this thing wasn’t high on his priority list, either.
It was slow. Very slow. But we did exchange numbers. And he did ask me out, finally.
And now, if I may, I would like to tell you a story.
There’s a woman sitting in an armchair at a chain coffee shop, headphones in her ears, eyes
focused on her phone. She is wondering what the hell she is doing on the north side of the city, in a neighborhood she is not at all familiar with, on a Sunday evening no less, having agreed to meet yet another stranger who would, no doubt, be another disappointment.
Another bum first date that would not lead anywhere.
She texts her friend to complain about her decision to actually show up for this date, but the friend responds with encouragement, telling her to keep an open mind and hope for the best.
She goes on listening to music and waiting, wondering what hope there is anyway.
The sun has set outside, and she gingerly steps into the cold November air to try to find her way to the restaurant where reservations had been made. It’s windy, she is sort of freezing, and mostly wishing she was warm at home. She crosses a bridge into literal no-man’s land.
Its an industrial area with a bunch of silent buildings that don’t look promising for housing a restaurant. She pulls her headphones out of her ears, keeping them open instead for sounds of other life, and if that life may be threatening to hers.
Google maps says the restaurant is down the street on the right.
She contemplates the irony of being murdered somewhere here. In search of love?
Seemed a little too poetic and romanticized. Being a stupid idiot seemed more realistic.
She gave an actual sigh of relief when she saw the one bulb light overhanging the sort of shady looking door to the place. Huh.
Once inside, she was thoroughly relieved to see that this was a very trendy, nice, even swanky place. She takes a seat at the end of the bar and lets the guy know via text that she is here a little early.
Then she waits. Who knows if he will even show up, but she thinks he will.
She orders a cocktail and looks around.
Looks at her phone.
Hopes for the best.
Out of the shadow of the long entry hallway, the guy, her date, appears and is walking towards her. She stands up and moves to greet him. He is gorgeous and all she can think is how crazy it is that this gorgeous man is here to see her.
They hug, she thinks the word ‘blue’.
The night begins.
The story went on.
It continued with a slow burn.
When I entered into this relationship, starting with that first night, there were a number of old
habits I had that were waiting to die. My entire anthology of relationships with men over the
years had the strong motif of codependency woven through them tightly and fully. But like I said before, I did not realize that I was codependent. It took some time, and other facets of my life moving into place, to help me realize some of the things that were happening with me.
From the beginning, though, the space that we created when we were together was always safe. I felt that very strongly, and since I had not ever felt like that previously with a romantic partner, it was noticeable in a lot of ways.
I felt safe while I was with him, but when we were apart, I had the commanding fear that he wouldn’t want to see me anymore, that it was only a matter of time before he left.
I was afraid of losing, of making him emotionally unavailable to me, of pushing him away.
Because of this, I did not speak up for what I needed or wanted. I did not engage it when I felt my boundaries were being crossed. Since I wasn’t too familiar with my own boundaries, I didn’t feel right criticizing for any violation.
Instead, I assumed that he knew, or didn’t care, and I didn’t feel worthy of my own voice. I was insecure from a deep dark place. And that manifested in jealousy of his relationship with female friends, suspicion of what may be happening when they would hang out, and already anticipating being lied to about inappropriate behavior.
All the while, being afraid to speak my fears, because fear told me that I was 'crazy' and I shouldn't show that to him.
So, I played it 'safe' and small, keeping parts of myself hidden, including the parts that I did not think he would be in to.
I kept my voice small.
I relied on my positive mindset and extroverted personality to keep him thinking I was fun, sweet, kind, great to be around.
I actively kept parts of me closed off to him out of fear.
Fear that swallowed me when I was alone.
Both my conscious and logical brain pushed back. I knew I felt safe, I knew his intentions were
honest, I knew how I felt, energetically, around him. Intuitively, I knew he was what I had been looking for.
While journaling, I began to explore myself and my emotions. I would give them attention and feed them with love and talk myself through them. In this way, I learned to stop holding on so tightly to anything in my life.
I learned to listen with my body.
Slowly, I started to come home to myself and understand the patterns that had ruled me in relationships for my whole life.
Somewhere over the last two years, I began to transition from acting out of codependence to acting out of Consciousness. When I began the restorative work on myself, I learned that these tendencies, wounds and behaviors, and ways of relating have names, and are not uncommon.
In fact, they are very, very human.
This wasn't just a more conscious way of relating to my partner; it was a more conscious was of relating to myself. And that is where the changes really began.
This work, the identification of codependent behaviors and patterns, is ongoing for me. They haven’t all been released yet. As different scenarios and events in relationship unfold, behaviors and stories bubble up. So deeply entrenched are they that it takes active intention and a lot of effort to trace them back to their roots rather than just acting them out.
This is the process of working towards freedom in relationship. It's seeing the wounds and old patterns and bringing them to the working floor, to the light, to be healed. But I know, by feeling it in a deep way, that doing the inner work allows the relationship to be seen and felt as it really is. But it is a journey.
And even out of relationship, that journey continues.