I looked normal, but I didn’t feel normal.
My problems were my secret. I was like a shell of a person that looked dependable on the outside, but was miserable on the inside.
I sought out one bad relationship after another. I looked for people that I thought I could help, so I could ignore the person who needed my help the most. Me.
I was controlling, manipulative, angry, and resentful. I felt like I couldn’t exist without someone in my life that I was supposed to help.
- I was controlling because I was living in fear, not in love. I controlled because I put myself in situations that were out of control. I controlled because I was “depended on”.
- I was manipulative because it was easier than being honest. They couldn’t handle the truth and neither could I.
- I was angry because people weren’t doing things to make me happy. I gave and gave, and they took and took.
- I was resentful because I didn’t know how to say “no”. I did things for other people because I thought they would do things for me. The more I helped, the less they appreciated it. The less they appreciated it, the more resentful I would get.
Finally I stopped having positive emotions at all. I would think the worst possible interpretation of every event. I would expect disaster, and convince myself it was inevitable.
It was a self-fulfilling prophecy that I couldn’t see at the time. One disaster after another.
I was in still in my twenties and these coping behaviors had now contributed to a failed marriage. These coping behaviors caused me to push away most of the people that I was ever close to.
At my darkest hour I felt like I had nothing left to give!
Then I did something radically different. Something I had never done before. I ASKED FOR HELP.
It turns out the first relationship I had to mend, was the one with myself. The only person that could make me happy, was me. Unconditional love for myself would be the only way I would ever be able to unconditionally love someone else.
I began to recognize the ways in which I was living in codependency, the ways in which I was being controlled by fear.
I learned that you don’t have to be the person suffering from mental health issues to be affected by them. In fact, many of the people in supporting roles often develop coping behaviors of their own.
I started to educate myself on this term “codependency”. My sister explained the term to me and gave me some reading material. It was as if I was reading my own story when looking at the book. I realized then, how many other people had the same struggles I did.
Next I went to see a counselor through our company assistance program. This was the game changer.
Had I known then, what I know today – I would have sought out help so much sooner. When you are in the moment, it is hard to see that happiness is so much closer than you think.
What have I learned since then?
- I learned that you need to love yourself if you ever want to love anyone else.
- I learned that the only person I can control is myself.
- I learned that I don’t have to identify with my thoughts – I can recognize them, accept them, and let them go.
- I learned to stop lying. I stopped making shit up. Instead of saying things to look good or sound smart, I listened to what others had to say.
- I learned that I can be me and people actually like it.
For the first time in my life I was able to speak to communicate, instead of speaking to be “heard”.
I found out how to make myself happy. I am now in a place where I feel like I have full control over my life. I have an amazing wife and three beautiful daughters. I have a great job and friends that I can count on. I have wonderful parents and siblings, and I have terrific in laws. I feel happy. I am happy!
For that I am grateful.
You are not alone. Ask for help.
If you have coping behaviors that are making you miserable, there are a lot of ways to get help. I urge you to talk to someone.
I lost touch with people over the years as a result of my secret. I would hate for that to happen to you. I know now, that the people that are meant to come back into my life will. I trust, that I will be ready when they do.
How do I know I am happy?
I recently left a “great job” because I knew it wasn’t going to meet my needs. I wasn’t happy. I knew I couldn’t be a good husband and father if I was going to be miserable at work. I had been miserable in my past and I wouldn’t do it again. I trusted myself to leave and I trusted my decision.
I made the decision to be happy and you can too.
Today I live based on my values and I try to be better each day. I am able to talk openly about my failures and my passions. I am able to be OPEN in hopes that others will be OPEN with me!
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