We are all afraid of being alone
It makes us feel reassured that we at least have someone(s) present in our lives. What we depend on is the approval we get and the feeling of being needed. Approval and need are like a sweet addictive balm for our inner turmoil. We tell ourselves that their love is ‘all’ because inside ourselves, we are empty. We are insecure.
As Mellody Beattie puts it so succintly “the magic is in others, not us, we believe.”
(Codependent No More, Ch. 9)
This is why a codependent finds it harder to either speak up, change, or to walk away than an un-dependent person.
Where does this insecurity come from?
We hold such ideas because of wounds in childhood. Now our parents may have not been physically abusive. Yet there was enough stress in their lives that made them unable to be kind to us when we had crises. So we felt traumatized. And along with that, we were unable to express our feelings about the trauma. We were made to feel insecure about our own emotions. We became ashamed of our feelings. No time was given for us to feel anger, grief, or fear. We grew up with these emotions still cutting us up inside. As adults, we look outside ourselves for the people who can heal these wounds. But ultimately, we have to heal ourselves.
What emotional insecurity looks like
Everyone has a need to be nurtured. But a codependent person goes overboard, with lovers, spouses, friends, parents and kids. We are so centered on others, that we don’t see to ourselves.
We might reject the love of people who are already in our lives. They might try to reassure us, more than once, but their words just ‘leak’ away.
Other times, a person may feel the desperateness of our need, and try to leave. So we are left with many broken relationships and we may wonder why we can’t stay connected with anyone.
Or we may chose a person who is not really likeable or loving, such as an addict or abuser. We settle for the crumbs of their attention. We might minimize their bad qualities by saying ‘at least he didn’t hit me’.
How to become undependent
If you find yourself jumping from one person to another, or you start using alcohol, drugs, work, then you may be just repeating the dependence pattern. Or you may stay with that person and rationalize your staying… by overemphasizing their good traits, or by believing them to be helpless without your caretaking.
To break away, without breaking up, take steps to increase your undependence.
1. Look at your childhood and find the wounds. Grieve them. You’re an adult now, so it is safe. No one will judge you. Make a safe place for these feelings and feel your sadness fully (Many books and coaches can help with this process)
2. Now give that inner child lots of love and assurance. Use daily positive statements that you read often. Counsel yourself.
3. Figure out where you are looking for happiness in other people and turn that to yourself. You only need to be approved of by yourself.
4. Learn to depend on yourself. This may include real goals, like going back to school, getting a job, overcoming dyslexia or other issues, taking medications you need, learning to drive, and so on.
5. Learn to depend on your Higher Power too.
Where is my Iman (faith)?
I can speak from personal experience when I say that the pain of becoming codependent and emotionally insecure can cause your faith to go down the drain. In other words, an abused believer is nowhere as strong as a believer is undependent and clear of emotional issues. The pain of having unmet needs and unexpressed trauma causes us to question Allah. Where did He go, when we needed Him the most?
The converse is also true. As we investigate our past, and work through our issues, and as we become less co-dependent, that sweetness of iman comes back. Allah SWT has always been there, but He does not change the condition of a person, until that person changes themselves.
Jehan founded this magazine and site to help Muslim women and men learn to stay away from abusers, to strengthen their relationship with Allah SWT and to find better healthier relationships.