When I came to realize I struggled with codependency I thought I could never become attached to a human being again. I was fearful that by doing so my life would spiral out of control how it had always before in my previous, highly codependent, relationships.
Ironically, I met my boyfriend one month into my recovery. In the beginning, I was terrified. Was I going to repeat the behaviors, the cycles, and the awful ending of my previous relationship due to my codependent ways?
Somehow how I used this fear to discover exactly how I wouldn’t let that happen. Without that fear, I have no doubt I would have dove right into my old codependent ways. It became my motivation.
And my relationship has been a successful, healthy, and thriving one.
Here are the 5 tips to ensure your relationship can be the same while recovering from codependency:
1. Self Reflection
Being in a relationship is going to bring up a lot. A lot of good but also a lot of hard. This is going to include triggers, emotions, and memories you may not have wanted to feel.
It will also bring up behaviors, including the ones you may consider character defects. Feel it all. Examine what is coming up and reflect on how you can use it to mold your current relationship.
If what you are feeling is from the past and meant to stay there, keep it there. If it is a fear or trigger in your current relationship, make a healthy action plan as to how to deal with it.
Through this reflection process, you will be able to act less on impulse and all old habits. You will instead be able to focus on the new and improved healthier skills you are building with your current partner.
Get real with your partner about what you have been through, and what may come for you in your new relationship. Tell him or her your story including triggers and parts you may not be proud of.
There is no need for shame and secrecy in your new relationship. This is your chance to do a relationship better, being the best version of you. To do that you not only need to be honest with yourself but with your spouse.
Honor your story and respect where you are at in your journey. A relationship built on this foundation is already off to a better and healthier start than the last one. There is truth in the saying, “honesty is key”.
This is where the self-reflection and honesty come in — communicate it all. Without communication, your partner may build assumptions themselves about what is going on with you or your relationship.
Likewise, they may try to form solutions to triggers, emotions, and codependent behaviors they see on their own. Set your relationship up for success by addressing this in the beginning. Make the solutions before the problems are there.
Also note, sharing and not holding in emotions during your recovery is crucial to the healing process. Let it all out as long as you are maintaining respect and safety for yourself and others.
A daily, weekly, or monthly check-in to talk about the many aspects of your relationship are great for this.
You will not be perfect in this relationship so let that expectation go now. Triggers will arise, behaviors you are not proud of will show face, and maybe even the dreaded “I’ve done it again” moment in recovery.
You are a human being, not a human doing. Practice giving yourself grace. This may be the first time you have tried this healthy relationship and it is going to take time and practice.
Give your partner grace too. This may be the first time they have known anyone who struggles with codependency, nonetheless been in a relationship with someone who is recovering from it.
The important thing is you are both intentional in your relationship and taking the steps to ensure it is healthy.
5. Work (but the rewarding kind)
Unfortunately, if you have found yourself struggling with codependency, it is going to take work to make sure you do not fall back into the default of a toxic relationship. There is no magic wand to make it all go away.
Not only are you going to have to practice the 4 tips above, but you may also need to continue going to meetings, talking to a therapist, and seeking information to aid in your recovery.
Not to be a bearer of bad news but this codependency stuff is never cured. It is kind of like anxiety; it could always be just around the corner if you are not putting in the work to keep it at bay.
Thus, once you are in a healthy relationship you have to keep putting in the work to keep it healthy. That is also the beauty in it though — that being in a healthy relationship post codependency is possible, you just got to work it.
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Originally published on Medium.