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4/14 Interactive Board: Codependent Partners

3/23 Interactive Board: He's Changing... I'm Not...

3/1 Interactive Board: D/s Lifestyle

1/14 Interactive Board: My Purrrfect Husband

12/12 Interactive Board: What if He Could Have Changed?

10/23 Interactive Board: Quandary Revisited

8/24 Interactive Board: Quandary! What's Going On?

7/20: Dr. Irene on cognitive behavior therapy and mindfulness

6/12 Interactive Board: Unintentional Abuse

11/7 Interactive Board: Is This Abusive?

12/29 Interactive Board: There Goes the Wife...

11/4 Interactive Board: A New Me!

10/8 Interactive Board: Seeming Impossibility

9/8 Interactive Board: My Ex MisTreats Our Son

5/1 Interactive Board: I feel Dead - Towards Him

4/26 Interactive Board: Why is This So Hard?

4/19 Interactive Board: I Lost My Love...

4/7 Interactive Board: Too Guilty!

Rhoda's Update: Advanced Victim Recovery - Codependence

Rhoda's Update: Advanced Victim Recovery - Codependenc

Refresh your memory. Rhoda's story, The Breaking Point dated 1/1/99 starts here, .

"Most powerful is he who has himself in his own power."

May 30, 2000

Dearest doctor! Dearest Rhoda!

I thought that I had progressed beyond needing to go into your website. Ha! I am most definitely a different woman than when I first came into your realm a wounded creature.  But... Hey! This recovery stuff takes a while!

First the hard facts...

The divorce is still in progress.  The ex has of his own volition not exercised the supervised visits granted by the courts.  So, with the protective order, I have not seen him since January.  The last time he saw his kids was probably February. Great daddy.

With the help of a creative mortgage broker, I was able to buy the home I have rented for the last 14 months.  It is a huge, farmhouse type home with 4/10 of an acre to maintain.  I am considering taking on some boarders to help with the payments and maintenance.  Me, a single mom, my own house!!!!!!!!! Yippeee! Once more: Yipppeeee!!

However, I have been completely humbled by becoming involved with a friend that I have known for 9 months.  It was not a fireworks beginning at all.  He was a kind, sympathetic listener to my stories.  He provided a sense of outrage that I was not finding on my own about specific events.  We enjoyed doing things together immensely.  We had both wanted to take things slow. His words were to not let things get out of hand.  Well, they did get somewhat out of hand, and he kindly sat me down and told me we must back things off some.  

Okay, that is the healthy, most caring thing he could have done.  But I can only admit that after going back into the info on codependency that is on your site.  I rang every stinking bell that is listed on your mindset of the codependent (well, not every single one) and the family perspective on codependence.  My first reactions were not comfortable, as you can imagine.  The abandonment thing was huge.  But he never once indicated that our friendship was in jeopardy.  In fact he emphatically denied that when I expressed concern about it. :)

So, I am sitting with feelings that are completely novel to me....normal for where I am coming from. :) My question is this, and you cannot answer definitively, I know.  I have only had domestic violence counseling.  I seem to be making incredible progress in the relatively short time since I have begun all of this. Yes! Do I need to seek mental health counseling for the codependency?  I am adept at assimilating what I read and applying it to myself.  I just need some reassurance that I must relax and let time do some of the healing as well.  

My best friend is a huge resource for sounding out my feelings.  My guy friend that I mentioned may or may not be there for me.  The insecurity is from inside of me.  He has still called me to see how things are going for me.  He is still there in small ways.  I am thinking that he has proven to a degree that his motives are honorable. I'm not as certain. Why would a man who truly loves you give you as much space as you indicate here? My daughters were not welcoming to him, and that is a huge concern for him.  If it wasn't a huge concern, that would be a huge concern for me!  He very firmly brought to my attention that the girls are my highest priority. Correct. Something that in my codependency can fade from my awareness.  I am not anywhere near as healthy as I had hoped I was. Recovery happens in stages. But my being able to see these things, I think, is probably monumental in itself in my recovery. You bet. See how you already knew that? The following piece is a grasping at understanding all of this:

Lessons learned, hopefully learned well

A hungry heart leads me down paths that beg of youth and inexperience.  How does one gain experience fully, though?  Most lessons learned in life are learned through the living and feeling of joys and sorrows, and of finding someplace in between for solace and comfort.  The hardest lesson may well be that the solace must come from within.  How many times I have read or heard that sage advice.  I know not how to find the answers for my hungry heart without grasping and holding moments closely.  Play with fire and you will get burned....sometimes, though, you must draw close enough to the fire to take the chill out of your heart.  What can I accomplish fully if I cannot feel whole within?  How do I become whole within if I don't examine closely my responses and actions to others, (not so much with women, but more so with men)?  There is an aching loneliness that renders me a babe.  I have entered the arms of a man to find myself.  Warm embraces have eased away many hurts that lay buried within my heart.  Alas, I have not found myself.  But I think, perhaps, I have put away some of the charades that masked my inner person.  I have come face to face with the part of me that is so incredibly compliant---so ready to surrender my own identity in search of love and approval.  That surrender brings no true depth of caring, for it is a pretense.  Albeit a pretense that perchance preserved my life in years past.  But that past is fading from my heart.  It is time to lay the foundation for becoming my own complete woman. (But, you already ARE a complete woman!) I must battle the sense of unworthiness that compels me to seek the unconditional approval of certain ones around me.  I must create a strength within that will shatter the pretenses.  I am looking now in a way that reveals the pretenses, perhaps too late this time. The trickiest part is that the sincerity from which the compliance springs is utterly persuading to my hungry heart.  Have I learned enough to step into tomorrow without repeating the same pattern???  God willing, I have.............

So, Doc, I am at yet another critical point in my recovery.  I know that things will work out.  I have been blessed with so much.  My dear friend gave me a thought that I want to share with you.  The golden rule of the Bible is everything in a nutshell.  How can you love your neighbor as yourself if you do not have love for yourself?  Food for hours and hours of thought! :)

Take care, Peace be with you, Rhoda

Rhoda, you fabulous human being! Yes, you will get through this and you will flourish, I have no doubt. Now, down to business:

First you ask me if you should go for counseling; then you list the reasons why you don't really have to go. So, you don't want to go; you want to deal with the codependency issues yourself. Seems to me you have answered your own question. Trust thyself woman. And never forget, that is your sense today; your body is free to tell you otherwise tomorrow. Or not.

Then you tell me about this wonderful man who felt your relationship was going too quickly and pulled back. Everything you said about your hungry heart and battling your sense of unworthiness is true (Though, I ask you to consider this on the unworthiness one: God created you. Are you saying he made a mistake when he made little ol' unworthy Rhoda? Check it out...) 

Do examine the needs of your hungry heart. But, also examine your propensity to place the blame on yourself; let us revisit the hungry heart stuff:

We are human. We are programmed for companionship. Perhaps there is nothing wrong with your heart's hunger. And perhaps the problem lay in another individual's not being in the space to fill it. You know, we feed each other's hearts. Perhaps the codependency stuff lay in the codependent's selling out for the first warm body that promises nourishment - but does not deliver... Perhaps the selling out is more of the problem than the hungry heart...

The recovering codependent's dilemma is to accomplish all you so eloquently state in your verse - while at the same time - assessing if a given individual has what it takes to meet YOUR needs... Hold out Rhoda until you meet the individual with whom you can exchange heart food. Back off when the person you thought had your heart food turned up short. 

Can you begin to regard your desire for companionship as healthy? Normal? Perhaps this person's backing off set off abandonment bells that, while exaggerated, were real? Check it out... 

The way I see it, no matter how wonderful another individual is, if they're not there for you, they're not so wonderful. And, consider the fact that life is full of problems. Your girls will not want anybody else in daddy's space right now. But, if you want him and he wants you, you and he partner together to help the girls get to a better emotional space regarding him. 

Just like backing off when you are being hurt "works" with the abuser, it "works" with ordinary, run-of-the-mill human beings. I wonder what would happen to his attitude if you were to pull away - because he was unwilling to meet the partnering needs of your hungry heart? And because you love yourself too much to accept anything less...

Codependency Recovery Lesson 1: Do not give the store away. Do not sell out for a warm body or a promise. Make yourself "expensive." Expect to spend time alone. Feel the loneliness and use the time to explore yourself. Expect a full partner who cares for you as you care for him.  Love yourself enough to demand what you want... And you may get it. 

Codependency Recovery Lesson 2: Could it be that there is absolutely nothing wrong with your hungry heart? (hint, hint)

God bless you dear lady, Dr. Irene

I just want to read the posts.