i love this definition of codependency (Dr. Beverly Berg):
“codependency is almost always a result of having grown up in a home or family system where the child is called upon to caretake long before he is developmentally ready or inappropriate. When a child senses that one or both of this parents cannot handle the normal demands of parenting, codependent pathways become carved into the child’s brain…instead of cultivating the ability to bond with others, the child’s brain focuses on becoming masterful at sensing others’ needs.” after reading this, i had such a better understanding of the impact my childhood experiences had on how i relate to people.
i have a very clear memory of my parents asking me to write a letter to my father’s boss asking him for a promotion, since their english wasn’t good enough. i also remember not knowing what a ‘promotion’ was, and going to bed filled with fear that my letter wasn’t good enough, and that it would be my fault if my father didn’t get the raise. my mother was so focused on money, that we were constantly striving for more, and living in fear that it wasn’t going to be enough.
i also remember telling my mom that i wanted to be a teacher when i grew up…that i loved children. she told me that there was no money working with children, and that i needed to become a doctor – ‘who’s going to take care of daddy and me if you don’t become a doctor?’ the codependent pathways were definitely becoming well carved into my brain at an early age as i came to believe that i somehow was responsible for my parents’ well being and happiness.
i loved being a parent of young children because i was a master at sensing their needs. but as they grew and became more independent, i had to work to detach myself from my mother’s words, and establish my own inner voice. i tried my best not to plant seeds of guilt, resentment, or shame. i didn’t want my children to feel responsible for my well being. i wanted them to learn to find their own happiness and pursue their passions…and to discover personal freedom.
happiness has nothing to do with making someone else happy, sensing someone else’s needs and filling them. my children had to learn personal responsibility, and to find and fulfill their own dreams, not mine, in order to find their truth, and inner happiness.