Untangling Codependent Relationships
By Jai Maa
Relationships are a balancing game and personal boundaries need to be made and respected by all parties involved
Have you ever met someone you truly loved, and right off the bat, you wanted to give them the world? Maybe it was a new friend or a partner you desired to spend all of your time with. Perhaps it was someone out of the ordinary who crawled into your heart and made themselves a home.
The beginning is sweet nectar, so you pour your energy into each waiting moment. Then, the honeymoon phase ends. You’re not sure why, but something has changed. Is it them? Is it you?
The more you hang on, something dreadful happens. You stop loving the way you used to and might even become the “bad guy” in their eyes.
I have known Anna since she was 7 years old. I watched her grow up, while I soared as a wild and free young adult. Years later and barely old enough to fly from her nest, Anna’s engagement to her fiancé fell apart and her mother crossed into the Light. I decided to step up as a big sister. I took her under my wing, gave her the love she felt was missing, and I watched her come back to life again. We had the most incredible times laughing and being with each other. I loved making her nourishing meals and providing a sanctuary home for her to visit and escape her troubles. She loved appreciating me with her thoughtful gifts and endless smiles.
Then the scales tipped. I had no more energy to give, and what I gave never seemed enough to pull her up out of the hell she was in. I felt drained and became sick. What else was there to do but pull away and take care of me?
Anna was not happy with me. I had given her so much and then took myself away. She felt angry and confused. She didn’t consider what was happening with me, since I created a pattern of never being considered. She was devastated and acted out of her emotion turmoil, the pain I could never rescue her from even though I tried.
When a person is sick and in the hospital, no one questions why they are unavailable to connect. Though I was not in a hospital bed, I wanted to feel better and have my energy restored. I knew I couldn’t do that as long as I was tending to the needs of another.
Why do we wait to become physically ill before we honor our boundaries? Aren’t our emotional/energetic boundaries enough to communicate and respect?
I wondered what it would take to evolve our relationship to a healthy balance of self-care and boundaries. Was it even possible since we had already crescendoed to the desperation point of needing a change? I hoped so, but felt apathetic in order to protect myself from engaging in this self-defeating interaction again.
I waited until my energy felt clear and centered before responding to any of Anna’s triggering messages left on my phone. When we did connect, I was able to offer empathy and compassion for the impact I had on her from pulling away. She felt heard, loved, and understood, and in turn offered me the same caring listening and respect. I shared what I experienced without making her wrong, and asked for what I wanted: a healthy, balanced relationship that could inspire us both. Anna happily agreed, sharing that in the short time we were distant from one another, she realized she wanted the same and that it was up to her to do her own healing work.
Many times, it is appropriate to move on from relationships, especially when they drain you. You have to ask yourself if the relationship matters enough for you to heal yourself and keep it, or heal yourself and walk away. Just walking away with no self-realization sets you up for another disaster in the future.
I love Anna, and I would have no more love to give if there was no more “me” left. It is my responsibility to take care of myself, even if another doesn’t like it. I can tell Anna loves me, too, because she is willing to honor my boundaries, and create a healthy, balanced relationship with me. That is a relationship worth saving.
Enlightenment Challenge: Where are you depleting yourself or being extra needy in your relationships? If the relationship matters to you, have a conversation about what it would look like for you both to bring your connection to a win/win balance.