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Codependency is defined as an excessive emotional, physical, or psychological reliance on another person—typically on a partner or close friend who is experiencing their own emotional or psychological issues. A codependent person is often unable to make decisions apart from the needs of the other person, and puts their well-being before their own. As a result, codependents can find themselves in toxic relationships in which their needs are often ignored or unmet.
Understanding the Impact of Codependency
The end of a codependent relationship can be incredibly difficult, since the codependent often feels like their sense of self is tied to the relationship. Codependents may feel confused, anxious, or even angry in the wake of the separation. It can be helpful to recognize that feelings of guilt, isolation, and grief are part of the process of a codependent relationship ending.
It’s also important to understand that the codependent’s sense of loss and pain is valid. It’s ok to grieve the loss of a relationship, even if it was unhealthy or unfulfilling. These feelings should be taken seriously and allowed to be expressed in a safe space.
Moving On from Toxic Relationships
Once a codependent relationship has ended, it can be difficult to move forward. The codependent may feel like they are unable to effectively manage day-to-day life without their partner or friend. It is important to remember that codependency does not define them, and that they have the strength and resilience to move on.
The best way to begin the process of recovery is to take time for self-reflection. This can take the form of journaling, meditation, or talking to a therapist. It’s important to acknowledge any feelings of guilt or shame, and to forgive oneself for not being able to save the relationship.
Finding Strength in Self-Reliance
Codependents often depend too much on the approval of others, and may find it difficult to make decisions without input from their partner or friend. In the wake of a codependent relationship ending, it can be helpful to remember that one has the ability to make their own decisions without relying on external support. Taking the time to identify one’s personal strengths and learning to cultivate true self-reliance can be empowering.
A great way to practice self-reliance is to identify the areas of one’s life that are out of balance, and to come up with a plan to address them. This could include taking on new hobbies or activities, or setting healthy boundaries with friends and family. Taking personal responsibility for one’s emotions and actions can be a great first step in learning to strengthen one’s own autonomy.
Cultivating Healthy Interdependence
Codependency can lead to a fear of asking for help or acceptance from others. It’s important to remember that relying on others for support or advice is not a sign of weakness or dependency—it’s a sign of healthy interdependence. Learning to be open to receiving help, while also being willing to offer support to others, can be an important part of healing after a codependent relationship has ended.
It can be helpful to reach out to loved ones, as well as to join support groups or participate in therapy. Connecting with others who understand the complexities of codependency can be a great source of comfort and support.
Learning to Forgive and Heal
Another important part of the healing process is learning to forgive oneself and the other person involved in the codependent relationship. It can be helpful to recognize that neither person was at fault for the relationship ending, and to accept that it was time for it to end. The process of working through one’s emotions and forgiving the other person can be an essential part of finding closure and peace.
Finally, it’s important to remember that it is ok to feel scared or uncertain about the future. Learning to trust yourself and your own decisions is key to overcoming codependency and finding a new sense of balance and autonomy.
Ending a codependent relationship can be a difficult and emotional process. However, it can also be an opportunity to learn how to be independent and trust oneself. By taking the time to grieve the loss of the relationship, understanding the impact of codependency, and cultivating healthy interdependence, codependents can find the strength and resilience to move forward and heal.
- Linn, Diane. What Is Codependency? GoodTherapy.org, 18 Jan. 2016, goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/problems/codependency.
- Richey, Jennifer. Codependency: How to Move On After a Toxic Relationship. The Hope Line, www.thehopeline.com/codependency-move-on-toxic-relationship/.
- Salter, Natasha. 7 Steps to Heal From a Toxic Relationship. Tiny Buddha, 5 Aug. 2020, tinybuddha.com/blog/7-steps-to-heal-from-a-toxic-relationship/.
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