Today’s interview is with Valencia. I have connected with Valencia via email and Facebook and she is an amazing young woman. She has a big heart inspires me with her strength and fortitude. Valencia just recently started her blog Pleasant Places and writes to encourage others. Please take a minute and check it out!
Tell us about yourself.
In a nutshell, I’m a bit of a cheerful and happy person. I like to laugh and make others laugh. I am 34 years old and I’m learning to embrace and love myself for the first time in my thirties. I’m learning to embrace my attributes as well as my flaws – all of which make me unique and wonderful.
How did you know you were codependent?
I first learned about codependency around 2011 when I first learned about narcissism. It was in learning about narcissism that I discovered that I was codependent.
How do you think you became a codependent?
Honestly, I think it is a combination of how I was raised – the conditions in which I was raised – and also my personality or nature. I’m an empath by nature and I think being sensitive combined with having a very strongly narcissistic environment produced an extremely codependent version of me.
Describe codependency in one word?
Do you find being a codependent an embarrassing label? If so, why?
Not at all. Me being codependent is not something that I should be ashamed of. I am this way as a result of choices others made and not because I’m defective.
What were your biggest fears relating to your codependency?
The fear of being abandoned, misunderstood, rejected.
Do you feel that your codependency controlled you?
Most definitely. It made me tolerant of extreme mistreatment. It made me vulnerable and it turned me into a spineless victim. I remember once leaving my dorm room at 5 a.m. in the morning to walk fifteen minutes to my boyfriend’s house in another neighborhood because he was upset with me and refused to pick up his phone. I endangered my life for a relationship.
What was the turning point that caused you to seek help or learn more about codependency?
The turning point for me I guess was when my marriage, job, and family relationships were causing me so much distress that I just had enough of the craziness. The cycle that just repeated itself over and over again in my life had just become too much for me. I mean, I was battling anxiety, panic attacks, palpitations, depression….just everything.
Who did you hurt the most with your codependency?
I think that I hurt Valencia the most with my codependency. It’s almost like others were benefiting from my codependency issues. They were oblivious to how I felt. I’d always try to please others to my detriment and I feared making anyone upset. And even when I was assertive and honest, I’d feel guilty afterwards. I lived a life of torment and torture.
What does “detachment” mean to you?
Detachment I guess for me means….just going numb. I used that a lot in the past. I didn’t let myself feel anything. It was a sort of coping mechanism I guess so I wouldn’t have to deal with painful emotions.
What does, “Stay on your side of the street” mean to you?
Not sure what it means or if I’ve used it.
What does, “Get off the dance floor” mean to you?
How did you deal with boundaries in the past and how do you deal with them today?
In the past, I had no boundaries. Like really. Today, I’ve established healthy boundaries in my life and though my method of enforcing them may be extreme like cutting people off indefinitely if necessary or by adamantly speaking my mind, I refuse to bend the boundaries that I’ve established.
Have there been any dramatic changes in you, your attitude, or your life since starting your journey of recovery?
Oh yes! I’ve become a new person. I’m more confident and at peace with myself. I’m more real with others. I don’t stress over being rejected. I’m content with who I am. More selective about who I allow into my personal circle and in my life in general. No longer putting up with toxic and wrong people who add nothing to my life.
What is the hardest part of staying focused on yourself and your recovery?
I guess having the natural and God-given desire for companionship will always leave me in a place where I am struggling a little with codependency thoughts and behavior.
What is the easiest part of staying focused on yourself and your recovery?
Seeing the changes in myself and in family members’ interaction with me. It makes me know that the more I progress with my recovery, the more benefits will come.
Without all the drama that codependency brings, do you find life, work, and relationships boring now?
Not at all. I find my life, work, and relationships more enjoyable. I feel liberated from the chains and prison of codependency.
What are some of the tools you use to help you stay in your recovery?
I guess the tools are continually focusing on my identity in Christ and seeing myself through the Lord’s perspective and His definition of me versus seeing myself through others’ perspective. Also I find that being honest and upfront with others is a great tool and realizing that conflict is a healthy part of every relationship.
Do you have a favorite quote or mantra that helps to keep you going?
Walk like a champion, talk like a champion….Buju Banton….This saying helps me to remember to walk with my head held high and know my worth.
What words of encouragement or advice do you have for others who are seeking information or beginning their journey of recovering and healing from their issues of codependency?
My words of encouragement and advice would simply be to pray about everything you’re feeling and going through and ask Father God to help you find the path to recovery.
Do you have anything else you would like to share about your recovery from codependency?
Just thankful for the support that I’ve received in this journey from others who have shared about their journeys. From others who were not afraid to be transparent and totally honest about everything.