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I'm in a very strange place and wondering if anyone out there has gone through to the other side so to speak with codependency. How did you initially feel when you realized the scope of your codependency? How quickly were you able to make changes to your behaviors and dealings with others? Was professional help a must?


I am just starting to realize the depth of how much I put my entire existence into what other people think of me, or how I think they're thinking/feeling. This, along with realizing I think about 100 different self defeating thoughts, has brought my awareness squarely to my complete lack of self worth or self esteem. I'm reading "Codependency no more" and realizing that I'm so completely locked down with fear and insecurity that I'm really not in control of my own life. It's honestly frightening. It has become paralyzing cage for my life or lack of life. Another thing is my constant deep deep deep readiness to people please. Anyone I meet is better than me, and more capable than me. I have extreme fear of confrontation, of expressing my opinion because I fear the consequences of doing so. I don't even know what I'm afraid of anymore. I don't even feel like I have an opinion most of the time anymore. I now have this constant feeling of agitation and anger that I think is arising from the fact that I can't go on like this. I've been going off of what other say/advise/think/feel for so long I don't know if I've ever had the ability to think for myself. I'm so tired of seeking validation and approval of basic decisions that I make.


I almost don't even know if I should post this. Instead maybe I should be writing these things in a journal or something because what if I'm just using the reply's to this thread to further my need for approval?


I've entered counseling but it's frustrating because the guy is only a drug and alcohol counselor and only has 30 minute sessions with me every month and a half. I can't even remember what he says after a month and a half, or what he directed me to work on. I feel like a shell just going through life, I have things to offer others I'm just completely lost in the confines of my own mind. Thanks in advance and sorry for the whining, part of me just feels like I have to get this out. I keep digging and finding more and more and more to process. I want to not hate myself.

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Write away! This forum is an excellent place to discuss those thoughts, on top of having a journal. I realized the scope of my co-dependency issue a few years ago and to be honest, after coming to that frightening self-realization, I still went headlong into relationships trying to be the pleaser, and attracting addictive types. The knowledge is there, it's what you do with it that counts I guess, and it's a daily struggle. Feel free to message me privately, because this is a constant battle for me too and I know how difficult and scary it can be.


I can say I've made tremendous progress with setting boundaries. You might start there. Say no to dates you don't want to go on for one. Express yourself when someone does something that hurts you. Make a list of things you often do for other people without thinking about, even when you disagree. Make lots of lists actually. List the things you like about yourself (even if they are few in number and things you may find inconsequential). Then when the negative self-talk starts, remind yourself of those things. And think about the tangible things you can change and the ways you can improve yourself. As far as not having an opinion, it's simply not true. It's there, even if it's buried in other peoples' opinions. Try to spend some time alone for reflection and making plans of confronting these things. It sounds lame but sometimes it takes being very quiet and listening to the voice inside you, the real you, that shouts your opinions, and tells you what you love and value. You may feel you lack passion because you've lived through others for so long. Try to wrench yourself away with small steps for now. And don't be so hard on yourself. I know this all sounds vague and scrambled, but your thread really touched a nerve with me and I want to say that you are truly not alone in this. Also, I've heard excellent things about CODA or LSA (love and sex addicts anonymous) meetings, maybe I should try some myself. Might be a better tool than a therapist you don't see so often.

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Most of us like to be valued and approved of, but that's not quite the same as being a 'people pleaser'. Being a people pleaser means that you subvert all your own opinions, feelings and needs to those of others in order to gain their approval, and you lose sight of yourself in the process; expressing yourself, your opinions, feelings and needs openly - and this being approved of by others - is validation. This will strengthen your sense of yourself. It will strengthen your sense of yourself even if others DON'T approve.


There's so much material in your original post that I'm not going to attempt to answer all of it, but starting a journal would be a good idea. You have very clear insights and will probably find reading self help books very useful, too. You realise that the problems - and, therefore, the solutions - lie within you, and the fact that you are taking responsibility makes you instantly a thousand times better off than someone who sits there blaming the rest of the world for everything that happens to them.


I started in therapy when I was 20, and the relief of realising that the hell I'd been living through as an adolescent was not an inevitable part of life, and that this could heal, was enormous. It's also important to remember that as you change, you will inevitably feel anxious because you're in unfamiliar territory. This is part of the process, is temporary and as you become more familiar with it, it will seem more comfortable. It's also been my experience that I felt worse initially when starting therapy than I had done before. Again, this is part of the process - change IS painful - and when it fades away things start to look brighter and brighter.


Attending CoDA meetings is a good idea, too, because you will meet many people who really understand you because they've been there themselves, and having a support group around you will help enormously.


Good luck!

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You may feel you lack passion because you've lived through others for so long. Try to wrench yourself away with small steps for now. And don't be so hard on yourself. I know this all sounds vague and scrambled


It doesn't sound vague and scrambled to me it makes a lot of sense lol. I was talking with a long time friend last night about all of this. He said mentioned that the lower the opinion someone has of him, the less he respects their opinion. I was like "wow dude, I am exactly the opposite. If someone has a low opinion of me it's devastating and I wonder what all I've been doing wrong, and how long I've been doing these wrong things around them." He was sort of blown away the more I admitted my thought patterns. But he's a good friend, I don't worry about him judging me. Talking about my thought patterns really helps me volumes. Because by saying them out loud I can get another perspective on them and they don't seem as intimidating or complicating outside of my own mind box.


Thank you guys both for the suggestions. I have been keeping a journal off and on for about a year. I do it on my computer and keep the writings in a "life" folder. I also like to do art and keep several sketch pads with sketches and abstract representations of my feelings.


@nutbrown I am trying to keep in mind that change is difficult and uncomfortable. Sometimes it's this knowledge alone that pushes me further into the day. Oh, and I think you have a very good point about expressing yourself even if other DON'T approve, how it will strengthen my sense of self. In my mind that is naturally to be avoided, god forbid someone gets angry at me.


Today has been good so far, and it is a daily struggle. I'm just trying to relax about it while at the same time observing more and more.

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