Codependent Independence

Imagine little 23-year-old Jen, gettin’ down in her Camry to some “Independent Women” by Destiny’s Child.

The shoes on my feet, I bought ’em
The clothes I’m wearin’, I bought ’em
The rock I’m rockin’, I bought it
‘Cause I depend on me, if I want it

Giiiirrrll, I’ll throw my hands up at chu!

Okay, I didn’t really listen to Destiny’s Child, but let’s just pretend for the sake of this blog post.

I was independent though! When I graduated from college, I had a great job, got paid to travel and explore the country, had my own apartment, paid my own bills, owned my own set of tools. I was far from a princess– if I wanted or needed something, I bought it, with the money that I earned and saved up. Myself.

I.took.care.of.my.shit. I didn’t need a man…

…for stuff.

Turns out, I actually did need a man. For my own validation.

I’d get attention from guys and eat that shit up. I acted unimpressed and annoyed, and I was for the most part, but there was a part of me that enjoyed it and was flattered. I also subconsciously sought after guys who were “projects” because if I felt needed, I felt important.

I wasn’t a high maintenance girlfriend, but I did want to feel loved, adored, and desired. “Words of affirmation” was my love language, and my boyfriends did and said things that made me feel good about myself. They told me they would do anything to make me happy, and these guys did do just about anything to make me happy! But obviously, that kind of stuff is only temporary. And when it’s gone, it leaves you feeling empty, because now who’s going to validate your worth?

I never truly recognized the depth of my emotional codependency until about my mid-thirties. Yep. 35-ish. I still considered myself soooo strong and independent.

But then came Summer of 2019, when allllll the shit hit the fan. There is a way deeper and lengthier story that I will not address right now, and it started years before this time, but that summer is when I hit my absolute lowest of lows. This was when I was pretty much forced to seek fulfillment from only within, because a large part of my external reality was ripped from me.

I remember imagining myself as a little girl and thinking:

How the FUCK did that sweet little girl grow up and this is her life right now?

That summer was the beginning of an ongoing self-love awakening. There were many–MANY– huge life events that played out that summer, but the part I’m addressing, and that is relevant right now, included men in my life (excluding my dad) shutting me out completely. This is not a story I will share in detail, as to not throw anyone under the bus. I have no grievances, and I have made amends (but also set healthy boundaries) with these men. And I realize in retrospect that they were put on this journey to reject and dismiss me–and HARD–so I was taught to love myself.

But damn, when it was happening, I was hurt. And I was piiiiiissed.

Why don’t you love me? Why are you ghosting me?! How dare you do this to me!

But dude, they were supposed to do this to me–FOR me! That was part of their mission in this life. So that I would learn to stop.fucking.looking.externally. for fulfillment and validation. I was meant to find that wholeness within myself. Period. This is what triggered my soul’s awakening journey, and I am so grateful for this lesson.

Have you ever said this to someone, or has someone ever said this to you?

I would be so much happier if you would just do (fill in blank) for me.

or…

You complete me.

or…

Don’t leave, I love you! I need you!

Be honest with yourself here. No shame in this–I’ve said it, others have said it to me, and I’m pretty sure a very large majority of you have said it too (probably all of you if you’re actually being honest with yourself).

But really, why would you put that kind of burden on someone else? And why should you allow someone else to put that kind of burden on you? Sure, I’m currently single, but I would much, much, MUCH rather be single than to ever lose any part of who I am to make someone else more comfortable in their relationship with me, nor do I want anyone else to do that for me. Or to beg each other to stay. Psssshhh. No.

A man will feel whole, happy, and fulfilled on his own, but our personalities and weird quirks will complement each other’s. There will be none of the “I need you” or “you complete me” bullshit.

You’re my peace of mind, my home, my center, just trying to hold on for one more day…If wants and needs divide me, then I might as well be gone.

The song “Jambi” by Tool could be interpreted to be about someone else, externally. And that is honestly what I used to think it was about–a love song, putting someone else on a pedestal. But what I eventually realized was that Maynard is singing about the peace and wholeness he found within himself.

(By the way, Maynard James Keenan is the best lyricist ever. I’m just sayin’.)

What he means is that he could lose everything externally, but if he lost his peace within, his home within, his center within, he might as well be gone.

If you were to sit alone and really self-reflect, could you be honest and say you feel completely whole and fulfilled within yourself, without any kind of external validation? I’m talking about any kind of validation from anything that will/could eventually be ripped away from you–compliments and/or love from others, material items, social status, career, reputation, body image–things and relationships that will eventually perish in your lifetime, or when your own physical body inevitably ages and perishes.

You guys, get in touch with your inner self, your *soul*, show up for yourself–which will naturally lead you to spill unconditional love out to others–and you won’t need to depend on anyone or anything else in order to feel whole and fulfilled. ‘Cause you depend on you.

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