This isn’t my usual post, however, it’s just as important as everything else I write for myself and share with the Pagan community. I think it’s time to talk about a common theme among many Pagans in our extended Tribe and something I am intimately aware of because I have been subject to this pain many times in my life. I’m no better than anyone else, however, I’ve taken some time to reevaluate my life and move on from the pain that has been gnawing at me. I want to share a part of myself with all of you so that others can take part in the healing that is so desperately needed in our society.
Like Níðhöggr devouring at Yggdrasil, co-dependent relationships can eat away at our roots and leave us depleted and needing more nourishment than we can find. It is an exhausting process to be in a relationship that drains your resources, be it financially, emotionally, psychically, physically or any other way. It was important for me to find the source of the issue from my past before planning an attack to move through the pain before I was completely ingested by the great beast who has been following me throughout my entire life.
While monster has taken many forms and has had many heads like a hydra, it remains the same core affair that lurks beneath the surface of my psyche. It’s played a major role in my romantic relationships, friendships, and also with “spiritual” teachers. The end result is always the same, I end up completely at the end of my rope, crying hysterically, and depleted of everything that makes me who I am. And then, I go through a cycle of rebuilding myself and rewriting some core assets of my personality in an attempt to try again. The series of events has been repeating its self as long as I can remember until I decided, one day, I didn’t want that kind of pain in my life any more. It was like a madness that kept repeating and I always expected to see a different result. It never came and it even got to the point where I began having health problems triggered by a co-dependent relationship.
So where does a person begin to unravel the tangle of events that is their life in order to find the root cause of what happened? For myself, I had to go back to a terrifying time period in life known as my childhood. I could go on and on about the endless emotional, physical, and sexual abuse I encountered as a child and the lack of tools I had to deal with these things, however I won’t bore anyone with that jumbled mess of rantings. What I will tell you is that I took stock of being an adult who is safe and well provided for by the universe, gifted with special abilities that were forged from the fire of my infancy. That’s a special way of saying, I grew up and did a reality check of my surroundings. I also concluded that even though I felt weak and helpless as a child, I was far from it. The Gods gifted me with endurance and compassion and those have been two special endowments that have reaped endless rewards on my journey even if I couldn’t see it for myself.
What I do remember, is this terribly sad story that sits in the back of my mind. Just for starters, let me say that I had a great dad. He had many faults, yet he truly loved his daughter and tried to teach me what I needed to grow as a person into adulthood. He passed away when I was 15 years old, however his lessons and intent didn’t die with him. They remained with me for all of my years and I will always be learning from his mistakes. There is no shame in that, in fact, we call that evolution. Let me tell you about my dad and his friend who we’ll call Edward.
My dad met Edward when he was in a particularly bad place in life. Edward did not have a home, he did not have money, and he did have a family that was falling apart. He was also heavily addicted to narcotics. My dad was a contrast to Edward. My dad was a businessman, engineer, and a natural amplifier of success. You could say my dad had a “fear of success” although he conquered everything he set his mind to and did it in such an easy manner that people around him were put off by it and tried to keep him down. My dad didn’t hold this natural success and abundance of resources against anyone or hoard it. He did just the opposite, he shared with everyone he could and he did it because he wanted those people to feel special and love themselves – even if it was just for a few moments in their life.
My dad’s unwavering compassion drove him to hire Edward as a business partner and share the beloved lawn sprinkler business in New York that he inherited from his dad. My dad was an engineer and gave up that passion so that he could honor his father in death and take on his business so that a part of my grandfather’s legacy would live on. My dad showered Edward in lavish gifts, including a brand-new 1991 GMC Jimmy, helped him co-sign on a home, and even spent countless hours trying to help make Edward’s marriage to his wife Jenny work when drugs and alcohol got in the way.
What was my dad’s reward for his undying devotion to Edward? Well, my dad’s health started on the decline when I was nine years old. He started to go blind and have complications with his diabetes due to the intense stress brought on by not only his own life, business life, also the stress of being Edward’s friend. He was scared and struggling and he turned to Edward for help in his darkest hour. Edward had a plan to solve everything right away for my dad, and my dad believed him. Edward produced a paper for my dad to sign that was supposed to be a cleverly thought-out financial plan that would save the company that was hemorrhaging money due to Edward who was stealing large amounts of cash for his drug habit. My dad was aware of his issue and unfortunately chose to enable him instead of cutting the cord. Edward’s supposed plan? He allowed my dad to sign away the business that he had worked so hard to create.
My dad died a few years later from a heart attack. I personally think my dad really did die of a broken heart from all those who used him. Edward was one in a sea of users that my dad happily served up everything he had to give. Now it’s not a totally sad story because since Edward was blissfully unaware of the depth of the financial problems and thought my dad would always be there to bale him out, Edward got the company – and also the massive about of debt and liens that went with it. Undoubtedly, my dad was seeking some kind of approval that was missing from his life, most likely his relationship with his mother that was also heavily abusive and codependent in nature.
I’m telling this story to those out there who will see the true nature of this tale and take a lesson from it. If you have a person in your life that actively works against you, whether they are a long-time lover, mom, dad, adult child, or some other relative or perhaps a friend that you identify with – it’s time to cut the cord and let them go their separate ways. Let me give you something that’s going to help and even if you have to change it to adapt it to yourself personally, that’s okay as long as you follow the theme of healing:
1. You are responsible only for your own emotions, well-being, feelings, or whatever you want to call it UNLESS you are a parent of minor children. Then you do share responsibility in shaping little lives. You can not MAKE some one happy with gifts, energy, kind words, or placing responsibility on them to help them rise. They will only rise when they are ready – if they ever become ready.
2. When you drop users, guess what happens? Wonderful people come into your life who fill the void left by these black holes. You have to own those connections though and gravitate towards the people that actually want you in their life. If you continue to ignore the folks who are reaching out because you are reaching out to the black hole, you’ll lose them. Let yourself be served for once and stop giving all that you have in order to make some jerk smile for a moment and leave yourself open to be hurt again.
You’ve been giving so much that the universe wants to repay you. Let that happen. Embrace it and take pride in the fact that you’re the total opposite of the people you’ve been trying to help.
3. Build shields for times when these people surface. If these users are a theme in your life such as they have been in mine, accept that you have made yourself available to be used. You can’t blame starving animals for biting the hand that feeds. You put your hand out there and they acted true to their nature. It is your responsibility to protect yourself from these individuals. That means not falling for the same manipulation and self-deprecating comments and behaviors that have never brought you long-standing happiness in the past.
4. Accept that you are a really cool person and that you are worthy of something better. This is the hard part for those struggling with the pain caused by codependent relationship. The abuser knows that you are in a low place and they keep you there because you’re more useful to them if you have no self worth. Why would they ever want you to rise up, look at them and see them for what they truly are? That means that you would do the unthinkable and LEAVE THEM! Who else is standing around cheer leading and clapping for them? No one. Only you. So keeping you on the back burner for when they are ready to fall apart is part of the plan whether they consciously acknowledge that or not. Think about it, if you wouldn’t treat some one as badly as they are treating you, why does this make it alright? IT DOESN’T!
5. You can not change people, take on projects, or anything else of that nature. As passionately as I’ve wanted to help people via Clergy, I’ve found that the most responsive people are the ones who come looking for help. Even if they don’t know what they need, it means that these people are ready to make some kind of change and listen. Actually, one of my favorite lines from Hermes Trismegistus (father of Hermetics) states that knowledge is available only to those ready to listen. People have to be ready and they have to be ready in their own time. You can’t force it with any amount of gifting, energy, or will.
I will tell you this, however. People can and do change although it usually takes very special circumstances that are usually that individual hitting rock bottom. As caretakers, we tend to protect people from hitting rock-bottom and we’re actually doing them a disservice. Either they will change or they will not. Accept that you’ve done all you can and walk away for self preservation. A person hitting rock bottom will try to take everyone down with them and this includes myself which is why I can disperse this wisdom from my own past. Also, do not be embittered towards the rest of humanity, there are people out there who are worth it and will give you as much attention as you give them.
6. Hold back for no one. If you’re giving all this energy to people than that tells me that you’re a pretty strong and amazing person yourself. It also means you’re holding back from who you truly are and that’s a crime! You’re meant to use that great abundance for something else and it isn’t for trying to fill the black holes. It’s for shining brightly as the newborn sun in the morning, for glowing like the silvery Moon as She dances in the sky, it’s for you to find the beauty that was covered by darkness.
Understand that you probably are the same as me and this behavior of codependency has been going on for quite some time. As painful as it was for me to remember where the cycle started – with my father – I was then able to follow the course of his life and prevent it from happening in my own life. This changes our ancestral Karma and gives us strength to break through the barriers of our own psyche. We can’t change others yet we can change ourselves which does impact the world!
Well, you can’t blame people for being themselves. Forgive them not for them, forgive them for yourself so that you can move on. You can get angry and I encourage you to let it out either with a friend you can trust, in writing, artwork or some other healthy outlet. Then you need to move on. People are always going to use those who make themselves available to be used. What you can do is recognize the patterns from your past and don’t repeat the same mistakes. Don’t be mad at yourself either, if you’re like me, this was a completely normal way to be until I realized that it wasn’t healthy.
Walk away from those people. You don’t need to give them a reason other than “This isn’t healthy for me.” Let them sulk, let them realize what they’ve lost and let the Universe and Karma deal with them as it is intended to be. Then go find something to pour all of your heart and soul into that is both healthy and fulfilling. Maybe it’s time to focus just on you and no one else. Find out what treasures are hidden beneath that beautiful reflection in the mirror. I did it and I know you can too.
And another thought – if you’re hanging on to these relationships because you’re afraid to be alone, I hate to say it – you already are alone. Take heart, you’ve been running the show for this ill individual and I bet you’ve been doing a lot of brave things without their help. You are strong enough to battle this out without their “help” and find out how truly courageous you really are on the inside.
Blessing to Those in Need of Self Preservation
May the Gods favor the souls who are generous in every nature,
may the Universe grant you the vital nourishment you need,
and the courage to break free of your bonds.
You were put here to feel, express, and give
Not to be abused, tied up, or held back
May you find the shine that exists within you,
and cast off the darkness that has hampered your life.
You are no longer a prisoner!
You are free!
You are worth more than you have been seeking.
You are alive! You are beautiful as the reflection that you seek!
Embrace the freedom and find others who are freed from such bonds!
Serve and be served, the Universe is yours, so mote it be!