These days, there is so much language around boundaries, personal empowerment, and healthy relationships, for which I'd like to thank the internet. I'd definitely say that the more readily accessible, widespread awareness around interpersonal relationships is one of the positives of social media, as I feel like people used to have to go to a psychiatrist to learn about this stuff, or God forbid, a library. I personally had no freaking clue regarding my own dynamics with others until I had already hit rock bottom and needed to understand just exactly what the hell had happened. All I knew was that I was doing my best, and honestly, that deserves some credit. For everybody who's just doing their best, ✨here's some credit✨.
Doing your best counts for a lot, but are you doing your best for YOURSELF? In the relationship I was in all those years ago, I basically learned that doing what was best for me inconvenienced my romantic partner, something I would then get punished for, which would result in a fight that would end up with me looking like a crazy dragon lady for getting pissed that I was being punished for putting myself first. What a crazy loop, huh? It felt like my freedom, my autonomy was perceived as being "mean-spirited". After this happened enough times, I developed the subconscious belief that having needs made me unlovable, and I stopped considering myself completely, especially after I was discarded at the end of the relationship. I put EVERYBODY before myself after that.
This did not happen in a vacuum. I already had the predisposition to put other people first. Ever since I was a little kid, it was very easy for people to hurt me. But that's because I always gravitated to the most wounded person in the room and would try to befriend them, to lift them up. I thought, maybe if I'm nice to them, they'll become a nicer person and be nice to me. I did this over and over in my life, prioritizing friendship with people who JUST WEREN'T NICE. Before about nine years ago, I never considered why. When people show you who they are, it's better to just believe them. I ultimately learned that the reason I chased emotionally unavailable people, people I could never make happy, was because I learned early on that love was giving yourself away to somebody else completely to make them happy, I learned it was good to sacrifice your happiness to put others first. Unfortunately, this constitutes codependency, and it is A TOTAL LIFE SUCK.
Codependency is oftentimes known as “relationship addiction” because codependent people often form and/or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive in order to keep themselves safe or to feel like it gives them value. This looks like:
Lack of Boundaries
Lack of Self-Image
Check, check and check. I had/have them all. Add this to being an Empath/HSP, you basically become an emotional therapy dog for others. Empaths/HSPs are already super sensitive to others' feelings/emotions, like...physically sensitive. Add that to wanting everybody to like you. Yeah, your life becomes a stressful, energetic waste. You spend all your brain and heart power at attempts to make miserable people happy. You get sucked into toxic orbits because you believe that the negative feelings you're perceiving from them are how they feel about YOU, when it's really how they feel about THEMSELVES. This distinction BLEW 👏🏻 MY 👏🏻 MIND 👏🏻.
I don't think the buck stops there, though. I definitely used people who cared about me, too without giving back equally. I had nothing TO give back, because I was too busy giving it to all the wrong people for all the wrong reasons. It's important to acknowledge that nobody is ever purely a victim. Ever heard the phrase "hurt people, hurt people"? Yeah, we're all part of a chain, puppies. How we've been treated is how we treat others in moments of reactivity, and only the most self-aware, whole, secure people have a real grasp on that.
It took a long time for me to understand that it is not a bad thing to be there for yourself. It is not a bad thing to relieve yourself from relationships that leave you depleted. It is not a bad thing to put your responsibilities to yourself above your responsibilities to others. In fact, it is the only way to attract healthy relationships. Good partners, friends, family members want you to chase your dreams, experience happiness, reach your highest potential. I had to unlearn a LOT in order to get to a place where I felt surrounded by people I have an even energy exchange with. Yes, I had to cut out some people to get here, and no it wasn't always pretty. But for the first time in my life, I feel safe and genuinely supported enough to focus on myself. I can't overstate what a difference it makes when you don't have to think about what everybody else wants and needs all the time, how you can prove that you're good enough. Put your oxygen mask first before you dramatically throw yourself on top of everybody else on the plane trying to save them.
How much energy do you think you give to other people? Are the people you give your energy to giving back equally? Are they the kind of people who are happy to see you happy? What would you do if you didn't have to worry about what everybody wanted from you? How would you show up in the world if you knew you couldn't disappoint or hurt anybody?