As I prepare for our final teaching, Boundaries: Why We Need Them, for The Healing Path class that I lead on Monday nights I’ve been thinking about my own past struggles with a lack of boundaries and codependency.
Someone recently used the words in describing someone “he is always yielding to the needs of others.” That struck a chord in me. Early in my walk of faith, my yielding to the needs of others and not wanting “to make waves” mentality stripped me of any sense of self. I could tell myself that I was being a servant of the Lord but as I like to say that’s just putting a Christian bow on what should be called a turd. We like to call our brokenness a gift when in fact it is born out of a past trauma that has yet to be healed. At the core of my acting out was a deep wound that didn’t trust. I grew up in a frightening and unsafe environment and it brought about what I would describe as a deep, core paranoia instead of trust.
I am pretty sure what my codependency provided me was an identity. That seems to have been my search for years and I tried different ways of finding it. Codependency was one of them. Enmeshing with those I was attracted to you was yet another way. Sacrificing my sense of self, my identity and independence in order to preserve what I thought were important emotional relationships. I paid a high cost in anxiety, loneliness, depression, frustration, and anger. True love (attachment) remained elusive.
I guess that begs the question, what does love mean? Love for me at that time was a needy possessiveness of another person. I would constantly blurt, “I love you” just to hear the words said back to me. Those wonderful words of assurance were like a life preserver to my hungry soul.
To come to a place of a healthy and mature love I had to realize my endless quest to find my identity and love could only be found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. That took some doing because I honestly believed I could keep “bargaining” for it and receive that sense of self I was so desperately looking for from others. The work was difficult and deep and took many years but through a relationship with Jesus and a loving community, I came to understand that I could be myself without losing love. I could give and care without the sacrifice of my identity.