“You need to leave.”
“You should never allow anyone to treat you that way.”
“You should be ashamed of what you’re doing to your children.”
“You are throwing your life away.”
These are often the statements that keep suppressed women silent and isolated. There is already so much shame eating away at her soul. There is already so much judgment she places on herself and so much confusion about what is happening in her life.
Prior to joining a recovery group for my codependency, my own shame was HEAVY. I was doing so many of my “nevers”.
I was NEVER going to be in a relationship with an addict.
I was NEVER going to allow someone to lie to me.
I was NEVER going to allow someone to steal from me.
I was NEVER going to allow someone to disrespect me.
I was NEVER going to allow someone to take advantage of me.
And yet, something in me compelled me to stay. Something in me was HOOKED on his commitment to turn it all around. I knew my love for him was enough to make all the difference. I knew I was different than all the other women and that, without me behind him, he didn’t stand a chance.
Without me, he would be homeless.
Without me, he would end up in jail.
Without me, he would have a mental break.
And my worst fear of all, without me, he might take his own life.
Despite the pain and the internal conflict - despite the beating my self-worth was taking - I tolerated and told myself to suck it up. Why would I even CONSIDER being so selfish to abandon him?? And how could anyone else understand??
I thought, “If I just wait it out long enough, it will all get better. It will all be worth it.”
So, when I experienced judgment from my friends, co-workers, or family, I withdrew. I couldn’t leave but they couldn’t understand. Hiding was easier. Glamorizing what was really going on was easier..
The truth is, I was exactly where I needed to be.
There was no other way for me to wrestle with all of my shadow, than this particular path my soul chose. I longed to come to terms with both my POWERLESSNESS and my SUPERPOWERS. I desperately needed to sort it out. I’m one stubborn girl and in order to SURRENDER to the fact I was powerless to change another human being’s behavior, I needed to give it my ALL. I needed to fail miserably. I needed to come to such a point of hopelessness, I was willing to change.
It was painful. I watched this human I loved act out all of my worst fears. With me, he used copious amounts of opiates and alcohol. He stole from me and others to support his habits. He was depressed and angry and devoid of his light. He committed crimes and acted recklessly. Without me, he did become homeless. He did end up in jail. He did try to take his own life. And, eventually, he sought recovery. WITHOUT ME.
The beauty in this all time low for me was my discovery of my own power. As I came to brutal terms with the non-existence of my power over others, I got to learn the deep wells of power I had to develop myself. I learned the more I honored me, the more I had the power to make a deep impact - way more than I ever would have had trying to change one person. This all required breaking many “supposed to’s” and facing many uncomfortable feelings like “being too selfish” and “abandoning others”.
Although this relationship happened about 10 years ago, I have never forgotten the lessons. I’m so glad I didn’t leave until it was EXACTLY my time to leave. <3
For those of you still out there learning and growing in the most painful ways, I love you. I respect your path. And I am here to support you until if and when you find your transition chapter has arrived.