Mental Health Healing Man

First Things First

new born baby

When we are first born, we come into this world helpless, needy, and unsure of the world around us. Our parents are there to care for us, making sure that all of our basic needs are met. In a perfect world. Yes, in a perfect world, Mom is there to hold us close and feed us when we need it, Dad is there to play with us and ensure that we are safe. They tell us how proud they are of our successes, they share in our failures and give us the strength to see it through and make ourselves better. They give us the tools that we need to be strong independent individuals, they show us how to love, how to be loved, and most of all….how to love ourselves. But what happens when your parents don’t love themselves, when they have insecurities and perceived failures that they can’t overcome? What if they have addictions or find themselves in abusive relationships? These are the formative years of our lives, and when we are given the proper tools we grow to be strong, healthy, and confident individuals. When we aren’t we find ourselves struggling to be happy with ourselves as well as in our relationships.

This “failure” on our parents’ part is what pushes us to repeat the cycle of codependent or abusive relationships. It is what we know. If your mother is insecure or addicted, or your father is a codependent or narcissist you will find that as a child your needs were not met, you spend your formative years looking for the validation you desire from your parents in other places. You look to your relationships with others to make you happy; the problem is that you’ve never been taught how to love yourself. How can anyone love us, if we cannot look at ourselves and feel worthy?

I had a good friend in high school whose mother suffered from a chronic pain disorder; his father worked long hours, and drank to escape the reality of the life he was in. In elementary school his parents separated and he was left to be the man of the house, there was no one there to care for his needs, nor his little brothers, nor his mothers. As her condition became worse and she needed more care it was her oldest son who made sure that food was on the table, clothes were washed, and mom was taking her meds. It’s no surprise that he has codependent tendencies. In his youth he only received validation when he was caring for someone; in his first relationship he found himself only feeling worthy of his wives love when he was giving or doing something for her. It was a one way street, and once the ability to give her newer bigger and better things was gone there was nothing left. She never gave in return, his sense of worth slipped away and soon there were those tendencies coming out in him, working long hours, staying away from home to avoid the reality of his life, and resentment towards his situation. It’s not surprise he has since divorced, even less surprise that his second marriage also failed.

This is not to say that there is no hope, there is, but it is a long and arduous road. One in which you must learn to love yourself. This means that we must look at our childhood, and face it head on, heal the inner child within us and let the past go. We cannot change what is behind us, but we can change how we let it impact the rest of our lives. Look at each moment in our lives and find the lessons that they were meant to teach us. Look at each relationship we have had find the good in it, embrace it and make it a part of us. Look for the negatives, and learn from them, all of life is a learning experience. No matter how young or old we will never find the end of our capacity to learn, not just about the world around us, but the person inside us. The more we understand about ourselves, the more we will be able to move past the negatives, embrace the positives and LOVE ourselves for who we are.

Codependence comes from our past, from not feeling worthy of love, there is a void within us that is impossible to fill. We look to the people around us to fill this void, and when that fails we look back and say “SEE!! I was right!! I’m not worthy of love!”. And we move on, eventually we emit this sense for so long that we find someone who validates this feeling by how they treat us. They make us feel like they are the only person who will reduce themselves to being with us, no one wants us. We can’t leave them because let’s face it, we aren’t worthy of anyone else, we are trapped by our own self-worth issues. Not by the person who feeds them. Sure, they may need us, and we will get some fulfilment from this but in the end we’ll grow to resent them as well. Now, is the time to break that cycle, to learn to love ourselves….it is the first step…

It is the last step…

It is the only step that counts…

And it is the hardest thing you will ever have to do to escape this pattern of self-destruction and codependence.