As I introduced in last week’s article, I am continuing with the series on “How Do I…Without You,” a look at codependent tendencies in relationships. This week I would like to share the ways in which I have unsuccessfully sought to achieve grounding and stability through relationships with others.
I’ve had to be honest with myself and recognize that my 87 moves were not due solely to the whim of parental instability. A good 80% were my attempts to achieve a “geographical cure.” What does that mean? I attempted regularly and ruthlessly to change my internal environment by changing my external locations. This type of behaviour is typical for many addicts and survivors of abuse, however wherever I go…there I am.
There is no shame in trying to take geographical cures to eradicate problems and threats to your safety. I believe leaving an abusive environment is a courageous and brave choice to make. Many times, my capacity to choose between staying or leaving wasn’t mine. I was so accustomed to either cowering or running from physical and psychological threats when I was young that a pattern was created. I had no choice but to repeat this pattern regardless of my willingness to stay or to leave future situations. I have been subconsciously controlled by my childhood abuse.
A. Seeking Stability through Relationships
My attempts to manifest stability in my life were a type of demolition derby of sensation seeking. I sought through relationships to get what I felt was lacking inside of myself. As if I were a puzzle piece looking for another puzzle piece to complete me, feeling helpless in my capacity to comprehensively nurture myself. Today I seek to share my life as a Venn diagram rather than a puzzle piece.
The lack of control I had over my repeated cycle of glomming onto relationships to experience stability only lead to heartbreak and vicious power struggles. Remember, as I mentioned earlier, my childhood programming was to either cower or run away. I was locked in a dichotomy that created emotional torture prisons in my relationships.
My inner pendulum would swing in revolt of my own desire to cling desperately to another person’s stability, due to that sense of stability not originating from myself. Instead of this rebellion catalyzing me to refocus on myself and seek my own stability I would:
- Threaten to leave the relationship and run away.
- Choose to overwork, thereby avoiding the relationship.
- Instigate an increased power struggle rage fest.
- Or subjugate myself to the will of my partner.
In the end all of these choices would leave myself and my partners with a heightened sense of insecurity, fear, and absolute ungroundedness. I felt as if I was standing on a volcanic earthquake seeking to fly away on broken wings, leaving myself singed by my chaotic flailing.
B. You Didn’t Do What You Said You’d Do
The second way I’ve sought to ground myself through others has been an unrelenting expectation that other’s would follow through with their promises or commitments to me. I am sure you know how that story ends? Resentments, disappointments, difficulties in maintaining friendships and positive work environments. I have been in conflict with accepting uncertainty and change in others, despite my own personal challenges in these same areas. Hating my own tendencies reflected in the actions of others.
In recovery I’ve learned the peace to be had in “accepting life on life’s terms,” embodied so well in the following excerpt from the book Alcoholics Anonymous:And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of my life —unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes. Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” He forgot to mention that I was the chief critic. I was always able to see the flaw in every person, every situation. And I was always glad to point it out, because I knew you wanted perfection, just as I did. A.A. and acceptance have taught me that there is a bit of good in the worst of us and a bit of bad in the best of us; that we are all children of God and we each have a right to be here. When I complain about me or about you, I am complaining about God’s handiwork. I am saying that I know better than God.
C. A Guided Solution
I offer you a guided audio meditation on grounding I have found to help my clients in their journey to safety and healing. The methods I have integrated in the meditation are tools I use myself to ground.
Additional means of grounding I find successful:
- Standing, laying down, or walking with bare feet outside (or inside in inclement weather.)
- Taking a walk or hike in nature
May you find your own sense of stability and rootedness along your journey. Please share with me your experiences with the grounding meditation and any questions you may have related to codependency in relationships.
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© Amanda Lee