I was a codependent for 24 years. Both of my parents were alcoholics and so as a child, adolescent and young adult; our family life centred on their addiction. Everything I did was about their addiction. Every choice I made about my life, was about their addiction. I didn’t do the university course I wanted to because it was too far away and I wouldn’t be able to care for them. I didn’t date some guys I liked, because I couldn’t introduce them to my parent’s. I let my Mum choose my subjects at school, because I didn’t want her to get drunk and berate me for going against what she said.
After 24 years of living a life centred around their addiction, I found myself mentally, emotionally and physically depleted. I decided that I would stop living their life and start living my life. I would do what it was my heart desired. The only issue was, I didn’t know what my heart desired. Then when I worked out a few things I desired, I was terrified of expressing my needs or desires because as a small child, I was told my needs did not matter. What I desired did not matter. My parent’s addiction left no room for their children to have desires.
The six months that followed were the best and worst months of my life. I realised I didn’t know how to make the right choice “for me” because I’d never been allowed to think about myself.
I started making decisions not for my parents, but for other people. I decided on things based on what my boss, my mother-in-law and my fiance might like me to do. I really did not know how to have needs or desires.
Slowly this started to change and I gained the confidence and courage to say and put into action, what I wanted. I learnt through this process that I always had desires, they were just buried so deep within me that I needed a safe space for them to surface.
There’s something so freeing about doing what your heart desires. This journey has been so difficult but I’m glad I travelled it. I’ll be able to model to my children that it’s healthy to have desires and healthy to chase your dreams. I’m breaking the cycle and it starts with me.