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Trying to pull my messy life together...
July 21, 2005
2:09 am
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Sophia_Lynn
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I am new to this board.... don't even know why I am on a message board, but I need the anonymity to be able to tell the truth about my situation and perhaps be able to improve things for myself.

I strongly believe I am codependent. i have known this for about 2 yrs now. I have tried to 'heal' it intellectually (reading books-- MANY books)...visited 2 therapists, however neither were any good, so I d/c after about 4 visits each.

I was raised by a severely mentally ill mother... no father.... I was her parent all my life.... always handling crises..... I have strong issues related to control (I have to control everything.... I am a perfectionist.... overachiever....

The issues that concern me are just this chronic feelings of emptiness.... anxiety... irritability. I am 33yr old, attractive (5' 7"; 115lbs)--- used to model in my early and mid 20's yet I haven't had a relationship with a man in 4 yrs. I always attract dominating, borderline personality type guys that I immediately cut ties with because of their behavior. I haven't had sex in 4 years!!!!! Then for about the past 3 years on some saturdays I go to a swingers club with a male friend (I never have sex), however I am surrounded by wild behavior and I love the attention b/c others there are trying to 'hook up' with me. I know that I only go bc I feel like nothing and I need attention somewhere, so I go there! I hate that I do it. I don't drink.... don't do drugs, however being in that environment could be detrimental to my career (I am a doctor).... I always ask myself what in the heck would I do if one of my patient's saw me!!

What in the heck am I doing?!

I am just unfulfilled. I have no real friends except this one guy I go to the club with and he is not really a friend. I am aware he uses me b/c of my looks to get OTHER women in that setting to come to him (and it works).....

I think I am here to find out if others with codependent behaviors actually improve... actually feel better.

I always figured I could change my patterns intellectually, however that is obviously not the case.

Thanks for listening..... any thoughts?

July 21, 2005
7:22 am
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hi sophia_lynn,

welcome to this board ! I hope you'll have a great time here.

so ... what I am hearing you say is that you are running low on self-esteem ("I feel like nothing and I need attention somewhere") and you get some kind of a "high" ("I am still worthwile, wanted, attractive", etc) out of people who are trying to 'hook up' with you at the swingers club that you visit once in a while. And that you and your male friend both "use" each other however, for entirely different purposes.

I also hear you express a feeling of disappointment about your life and who you are or have become. Or disappointment in yourself? Discontented with your current state of being (or way of living).

Ask yourself if going to a swingers club gets you the kind of attention you are looking for at the moment. For one, you can get your need for attention satisfied on this board by writing and posting about your inner life (feelings, thoughts, frustrations etc). Second, looking for a "quick fix" can set you up for a life of chronical deprivation.

so what ?! - if any of your patients saw you at a wingers club, you have a right to a personal life as well, don't you - besides, whatever it is that you do outside of working hours is nobody's business. Obviously some amount of discretion can be desirable.

"The issues that concern me are just this chronic feelings of emptiness.... anxiety... irritability...I am just unfulfilled".

As much as I can relate to your state of mind (inner feelings), I'd like to bring something else to your notice at this point. Even people who aren't codependent (or only a little bit) can feel empty, anxious and irritable a lot of the time - these feelings are not particular to codependents - this concept of "codependency" being nothing more than a "label" anyway. It's (= label) not meant as a tool or instrument for devaluating yourself. That's what I see happening here on this site quite often, people taking their codependency as some kind of standard to judge, measure or rate themselves by, usually in a negative or self-defying way ("I am not good or perfect or whole enough yet") so this way inhibiting their capacity for self-acceptance, self-understanding, and self-love(= the preconditions for self-improvement) because they always fail to meet the standard. So this implicit idea of "perfectionism" (self-image)in reality acts as a restriction or limitation to attitudinal or behavioral change.

Furthermore, the codependency label (however justified) can be deceptive to the extent in which it distracts attention from what really might be going on beneath the surface ... in particular some kind of identity crisis that needs to be addressed. Meaning, as a child you probably have learned specific survival strategies to cope with your life circumstances (mother) at that time, but as an adult these strategies ("control freak") may have become ineffective or dysfunctional, hampering or undermining your potential of living a fulfilled life. This awareness can give rise to feelings of anxiety. Because "old recipes" - habitual ways of handling things - fail to work anymore. As long as you are able to maintain the illusion of control, there's no room to give in to feelings of unsafety, insecurity or anxiety lying beneath. Because a state of helplessness or powerlessness needs to be avoided at all cost (your "weak" point?).

I do think its possible to change ANY pattern - not only codependent patterns of behavior - by gathering the necessary self-knowledge (what you've already done ... do give credit to your beautiful mind and where it has brought you in life) and then act on it. Some kind of coaching can speed up this process (because it doesn't require you to be or become different from what/who you are).

For example, if you're always the one in control (doctor), you may consider looking for situations or roles which allow you to get in touch with other sides of your personality so what you do is set up some kind of learning environment that stimulates you to develop new ways of thinking, acting and relating in a creative and playful way. So that you will be challenged to look at and experience yourself in a different way than before, deconstructing ingrained patterns of behavior and a negative, self-diminishing mind-set. It also has to do with systematically analysing or finding out where and how you can get the attention you do need. I think what you want is attention for the person you really are, converging into a need to be loved. But to be able to get that kind of attention from other people you need to discover, accept and acknowledge who the "real" you is first. So you may wanna spend some time alone or on your own out of a need to relate (more) to your inner world. To learn how to relate to you in a positive, loving and constructive manner ("I hate that I do it"). As you become your own best "observer", registrating your inner feelings or state of mind, maybe by keeping a journal or diary or posting here, you will start noticing that your feelings of emptiness and meaninglessness slowly dissolve. You will feel more solid and connected instead. You will start to feel better in time as a result of "inner bonding" (www.innerbonding.com).

July 21, 2005
5:18 pm
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Sophia_Lynn
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Thank you TrueHeart... I really appreciate your thoughtful response. Yes I can see what you mean.... the label of codependent is shaming in itself and I suppose not helpful bacause it automatically makes me feel 'less than'.

I do hope coming to this board can help me work some of this stuff out.

I haven't been in a relationship in soooo long and I want to be. Yet I know that when I get involved with a man...1 it is usually the wrong type of man and 2 I become SOOO enmeshed in his life and my own deadlines and responsiblities take a back seat. In a way I am afraid of getting in a relationship b/c I lose myself and mold my behavior to match them.

I know I shouldn't say I hate that, yet I do. I understand that intellectually you can not make up for emotional needs.... yet isn't this the only way in treatment to change these behaviors??? Ughhhh

Well anyway, hopefully I can get to know others here and 'talk out' some of this and learn how to get my needs met in a way that does not shame me.

Sophia

July 21, 2005
8:17 pm
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cpt1212
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Sophia Lynn,

I can relate to what you have written all too well. I am just a few yrs younger than you and I am have the same feelings of anxiety and irratibility and emptiness. I too am a perfectionist and while I grew up with both of my parents in the home, my father is bi-polar, but did not seek help and my mother is chronically depressed and have attempted to take her own life. I am the middle child, but became the parent to the family at a young age. I have a very difficult time in relationships as well and have decided that until I am able to make changes in myself, I probably should remain single. I have read journals and medical text about mental illness since I was child and understand things on an intellectual level. However, I also am unable at this time to connect emotionally to it to take the next step in healing. I am very guarded and self sufficient, but started counseling a few months ago (had to shop around first). This has made me go very far outside of my comfort zone, and really it is only now that I am starting to actually open up, but I do believe that things will be better. I also started logging in here recently and find it breaks down the isolation that I feel when I can read what others hear so candidly write about. I see small changes. I don't have any advice, but I did just want you to know that you are not alone. ----- It took me a while to get to this point, b/c I had "survived" for so long and while nothing in my life is awful I realized that just existing is not enough. It sounds like you are at the same point. Keep posting!

July 22, 2005
7:25 am
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dear sophia -

You really do sound very aware of yourself and your personal issues. By continuing to expand this self-awareness you will be able to considerably accelerate your personal growth. Change can often be understood or interpreted as becoming (more) self-aware or self-conscious. Sounds like an exciting adventure to me !

What's so interesting here, in my view, is that your previous relationships with men actualy describe and point out where *you* stand with respect to your own person, mirroring the neglect of what should be considered one of your most urgent priorities : making room for whatever it is that you need, want and dream of. In other words, the disbalance that exists within you is also clearly visible in your past relationships with men.

As a child you probably learned being a parent to your mom ("I was her parent ALL my life") as your main "survival" strategy to get the love, approval or attention you needed. Or to establish a feeling of safety and security.

People usually refer to this kind of self-sacrificing (sacrificing your needs and wants for those of a parent) behavior as "parentification".

It might be interesting for you to start a new thread that contains this word because it probably nails down your main issue and will bring you in contact with people on this board who have experienced and gone through the same thing (like - cpt1212 - already alluded to, it breaks down the isolation and helps you transcend a state of "just existing"). How parentification impacted your personal life, including your ability to build a healthy (balanced, equal) relationship with men. Parentification has probably been the central drive or motivation behind your choice of becoming a doctor too, making you feel valuable lovable and worthy ('artificial' self-esteem).

The point I want to emphasize here is that continuously or systematically putting yourself aside (= parentification strategy) can become a way of living which in the long run produces an outcome of "diminishing returns", meaning ... it enforces or maintains patterns of behavior that fail to be self-rewarding. Eventually this behavior doesn't get you what you want. Even if you up to this present day still believe that it does. Because you can avoid having to be accountable or responsible for your own needs, wants or desires in life and in addition, being confronted with all the pain, hurt and sadness about your unfulfilled longings.

The way you seem to relate to men ("I lose myself and mold my behavior to match them") bears a close resemblance to "chameleonlike" behavior. You may wanna check out the thread named "chamelion" - started by 'onmyway' (28-06-2005). She knows a lot about chameleon personalities!

What I am hearing you say in this respect as well is that you hate the way you are with men (overcompliant, selfless or self-sacrificing), thus - basically - hate the way you are - which tells me that you have grown accustomed to treating yourself in a self-defeating way (judging, criticizing and condemning yourself in a negative way). So consider not shaming *you* as a central or important personal need to address at this point. You've got to build that relationship with yourself first (being a parent to yourself?) Finding a (self-affirming) way to relate to your personal "self" that isn't based on emotional, physical (self-nurturing) and spiritual deprivation.

Why worry (or obsess?) about whether you actually are changing or not? Change will automatically happen, in due time and in its own pace. There's really no need to direct your process of change. It will direct itself. Like a river finding its own course. Trust on it.

The majority of people on this board are behind you all the way ..... so see to it that you voice is heard. You're worth it !!!!!!!!!!!!

Summertime ......... lalala 🙂

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