Falling Into Place
Well hello there.
Long time no see. Like really long time.
I’m sorry it’s been so long since we talked. I’d like to say that the reason I’ve been away is purely because I started a FRIENDS podcast and it’s eating up all of my free time. That’s only partly true.
The real, deep-down truth is that this has been a really challenging year. My marriage hit a rough patch and we’re still navigating our way out of it. I won’t go into details because, contrary to what social media life-dumpers might have you believe, some things are still sacred and private. But apparently it’s quite common for this to happen around the 10-year mark. I never thought I’d join that club, but here I am.
So, there’s been a lot of soul-searching this year. Like real, significant, scary soul-searching. I’ve listened to a lot of podcasts and audiobooks. My favorite podcast for self-discovery is Oprah’s SuperSoul Podcast. My favorite author for self-discovery is currently Brené Brown. Self-discovery and self-healing has become my new hobby. And it takes a lot of time.
I’ve learned a lot about a not-so-little thing called codependency. If you want to learn more about it, the book Codependent No More is a good place to start. It’s sort of like the codependent’s Bible.
What does this mean? Well, in a nutshell, I’m learning how to mind my own damn business. Truly. I’m learning how to let other people live their lives, and to stop trying to control every single situation. The thing about codependency is that it’s sneaky — it tricks you into thinking that you’re so involved in others’ lives because you care so damn much about them. You just want the best for them. You see the magnificent being they could be if they would just listen to you and do exactly what you tell them to do.
But here’s the insidious part: You don’t really want to help them. You want to help yourself. Because you feel like the world is falling apart unless you’re controlling everything and everyone in it.
Recovering from codependency means making yourself very uncomfortable for the vast majority of the day. It means biting your tongue when you want to give out unsolicited “advice.” It means accepting people for who they are, instead of placing your own judgments on them about who they should be. It means accepting that the only thing you can control is how you respond to the world around you. It means, when you’re inevitably tempted to swoop in and “fix” things, turning that energy onto yourself and asking, ‘What about this is making me so uncomfortable?”
Very often, you will not like the answer you get back.
But it’s all part of the work.
I realized somewhat recently that I’ve built ALL of my relationships on a foundation of codependency. But now I’m changing, and I’m changing the rules. So yeah, shit is shaken up. But I’m getting there. I’m happier most of the time. My relationships are getting happier — it’s amazing how much more people like you when they feel free to be fallible and human and that your need for them to be perfect is taken off the table.
In a lot of ways, it’s freeing — the pressure’s off. You do you, I’ll do me. It’s a complete departure from what society and movies and TV tell us a relationship should be. The “we’re so in sync, we finish each other’s thoughts” Hallmark movie crap.
Ideally, any relationship — be it a lover, a friend, a coworker — is about two independent, solid oak trees that are perfectly fine on their own, but when the storm arrives they provide each other with shelter, and when the sun is beating down they provide each other with shade. That’s the good stuff.
I’m only now realizing this. In many ways it’s still scary. I’ve had to accept that on most days, I’ll feel simultaneously happy and uncomfortable. Proud of myself and uncertain. But things are falling into place. I can feel it.