Truth: I hate labels.
When my daughter estranged, I worked with a coach and went to counseling.
One of the things my counselor mentioned was "codependency." She didn't exactly say I have this problem, but she suggested I read a popular book about it, to learn.
I was vulnerable and looking for answers.
I didn't know much about codependency at the time, but had certainly heard of it. It's one of those pop-psych words that's become so common, akin to words like "toxic" and "narcissist."
So, feeling insecure and desperate, I began to identify with the idea that I behaved as a codependent. In my pursuit for answers, maybe this is what went "wrong" and by fixing it, I could feel better. Or better yet, get my daughter back. (This was before I understood that answers can't change anything.)
When I mentioned my newfound codependent identity to my coach, her response surprised me. "How does that help you, to say that you might be codependent?"
Hmm. No answer for that one.
Listen, there are always ways we can develop ourselves. Looking at behaviors and how they serve ourselves and our relationships - or not - is exactly what I do as a coach every day.
But what I learned is that if I identify as a codependent, I see myself as someone who needs to be "fixed." Codependency is "wrong," so there must be a problem with me.
If I'm lucky enough that I can heal it, I'll always have to be on the look out for. Because, you know, I have codependent tendencies, right? So I can always easily fall back in to that trap.
If I accept all of that about myself, how will it make me feel?
Not great. Probably more insecure. Needy. Wanting to prove myself. Damaged, defective.
And then how will I show up in relationships? Guarded. Stressed. "Less than."
What if, instead of labeling myself as a codependent, I believed that I'm just a human, doing the best I can, learning and evolving as I go? What if there's isn't anything wrong that needs to be fixed? What if my only job is to take care of me, and continually strive to develop and take care of me from the healthiest place possible?
With that belief system, how will I feel?
Secure. Calm. Loving - of myself. Proud - of myself. Healthy. Focused.
How will I show up in relationships? Again, secure. Confident. Worthy.
The ironic part of this is that codependents are thought of as needy, but the label itself makes us needy - even if it's needy in trying to prove we're not codependent. We're still feeling the same emotion, exhibiting the same behavior.
From a more secure, whole place, we're better able to make decisions about how invested we want to be in a relationship. We can see choices more clearly when we're not fighting so hard to be something or prove something.
So that's why I don't label. I believe you're whole as you are, that you don't need to be "fixed," only that you just have the ability to make choices, as all humans do.
You have the ability to change your choices along the way, to grow. Your past behaviors don't have to mean anything about your future.
And like all humans, sometimes you'll make choices that help you, sometimes you'll make choices that hurt. That's the way it's supposed to be in our imperfect world. That doesn't mean anything is wrong.
You'll always be label-free to me! xo