I thought that I needed to be all in within my romantic relationships. And I mean, all in.
Because that's what we are taught right? That is what we are shown in movies and TV shows, that our relationships need to be a full commitment. Say goodbye to yourself and hello to a muted, toned-down version of you.
I thought I had to give up who I was. That's why we have bachelor/bacheorette parties, isn't it? We say goodbye to ourselves and hello to the old "ball and chain", the marraige that is going to "tie me down", when two become one.
But it fucking failed me. Co-dependency allowed me to lose myself and move further away from my partners, not closer. Co-dependency allowed me to resent my partners, and myself, not fall deeper in love with them. Co-dependency killed all of my previous relationships.
It also killed me inside of these relationships. I became a shell of who I am. I was afraid of being the full Cindra and I didn't even know what that looked like. How was I meant to be the brightest version of me without outshining my partner? I didn't want to make them feel bad. I didn't want to be more successful than them, or have a brighter social life than them or be more well known than them. So I dialled it down.
I didn't feel it at the time, but people remarked after I had gotten out of previous co-dependent relationships. They commented that I hadn't been myself for a long time. I had started saying no to social commitments outside the relationship. I had stopped doing the things I loved that were seperate from the relationship. I was all in.
Co-dependent relationships are those where you rely on the other person to be your everything. Your bestie, your lover, your counsellor, your confidante, your coach, your entertainment, your enemy, your punching bag. No one can be your everything. We wouldn't expect our friends or parents to be our everything, so why do we expect our partner to take that on?
Co-dependent relationships might cause you to cut off your connection with the outside world to focus on what you think is your whole world. For me, when my relationships would get challenging, I would become even more co-dependent. Things are getting hard, so I need to stay at home. That's what I would tell myself. Things are getting hard, so I need to stop looking after myself and look after my relationship. That is my priority.
Strangely enough, that didn't work. I didn't save them. I just ended up being a shell of my former self. With not many friends, no goals reached and a heavy heart. When I went to see a therapist about my failing marriage, she gave me this nugget of wisdom.
She drew two circles on opposing sides of a whiteboard. This one is you, and it is 100%. And the other is your partner, she's also 100%.
Then she drew another circle in the middle, with arrows pointing from our circles inwards. This is your relationship and it is 200%. Not 50/50, not 60/40. You are two whole people. You bring your whole self to a relationship. It's no-one's fault, you just haven't been bringing all of you and you haven't been treating your relationship like a partnership.
This made so much fucking sense to me. No wonder we had ran our relationship into the ground. We had lost ourselves in our love. We weren't showing up as 100%, not even 50% at this point.
You have to be whole in yourself to show up whole in your relationship. You have to put yourself first (see previous blog!).
I vowed never to do co-dependency again.
Inter-dependency is when you bring your 100% and are met with your partner's 100%. It's a full relationship, where you continue to do you and they continue to do them and then you bring that energy into the relationship.
When I met Luke, I was very upfront about retaining my independence, my friendships, my solo time, my self care time, my self development and so on. I set a boundary straight up about how I would show up to the relationship and that I didn't expect him to be my everything. He completely agreed and we commenced a conscious relationship from there.
I am not saying this is always the easiest road. I do sink into co-dependency sometimes, where I find myself wanting Luke to pick my energy up or wanting him to shift my mood, or not feeling motivated to go out and do my own thing. The co-dependency has this familiar, comfortable sense that sometimes I want to just surrender to.
But I push myself and remember that it doesn't work, I remember my vows to Luke in our wedding:
I promise not to expect you to be my everything.
I promise to show up and to do my work.
I promise to find space when I need it and to not lose myself in this.
I promise to be all of me, even when I find it hard.
Even when I find it hard.
There is another way. A way to a conscious, sustainable relationship, that is based on mutual respect and boundaries and loving yourself first.
Our new program, Relationship Rescue, will guide you towards a healthy, interdependent relationship that actually works.
If you're ready to walk away from your co-dependent past life and step into a brand new way of being, book your free enrolment call with us today.