It’s official. After a 10+ year relationship, I finally broke up with codependence.
An article in Everyday Health defines codependency as, “any relationship in which two people become so invested in each other that they can’t function independently anymore.”
I have had codependent tendencies since I was 15. And all this time, I thought codependence only affected my romantic relationships. But no. Codependency is a web that has touched how I show up in every intimate relationship I have. Sometimes it’s super obvious, sometimes it’s subtle, but it’s there—and what I have realized is that it is tethered to my core beliefs about giving and receiving love. Sigh.
Recently, I had a session with an energy worker I highly respect. At the end of our session, she told me that she felt the presence of the spirit of codependence on the back of my heart, like a gargoyle.
I thought about that a lot over the next couple of days after I heard this. Here is what I realized:
I have been in a relationship with codependence longer than any other intimate relationship I currently have, outside of my family;
Codependence makes me believe there is only room in a relationship for two people. If there are more people or things here (friends, family, personal hobbies etc.) I will be forgotten, kicked to the curb. There isn’t enough love for us all to be here;
My codependence really is a gargoyle: It protects me (in its own toxic way) from being hurt and abandoned, but it guards me against the kind of relationships I want to welcome in to my life;
Seeing codependence as a spirit that is visiting me helped me to separate myself from it. Before, I always felt like there were no boundaries between what is me and what is codependence. But now, I recognize that this thing is absolutely not a part of me. It arrived a long time ago and has been living on my heart ever since. But I have the agency to separate myself from it.
The energy worker who told me about my little gargoyle recommended a spell for me to do on the full moon to release myself of this spirit. I would not consider myself a witch, but I am in touch with my intuition, my ancestors, and in general I feel open to these kinds of things. So I decided I had nothing to lose—and really everything to gain—by doing this spell.
She told me to write to the spirit of codependence, offering my gratitude but letting it know that I don’t need its energy anymore. When I sat down to do this, I decided to write a breakup letter, because it really felt like a breakup. Here is what I wrote:
Then, I folded up the letter, put it in a jar, and—here’s where it gets witchy—I peed in the jar. Then I added some spiky things like nails and thumbtacks. Then I put it in my freezer.
This was my first time doing a freezer spell, so going into it I had no expectations of how it would feel or what would happen.
But once I put that jar in the freezer, I felt empowered. I felt like I had ended a relationship with integrity, respect, and in complete alignment with my highest self. I felt like I had put down a weight I had been unknowingly carrying for years.
Who knows how codependency will show up for me moving forward. But I think the important piece of this process for me was being able to name it as something separate from me, when for so long its sticky web felt so inextricable from who I am. I also think it was important for me to release it in this way: with reverence for its intentions to protect me, but firm in my boundaries that it absolutely cannot build a home in me.
As always, I never promise to have the answers, but I sure do love having you along while I figure it out.
Do you have answers? How have you worked through codependency? What stickiness comes up for you around the topic? How do you find balance between yourself and your relationships? I would love to know. You can respond to this email and tell me, or, if your’e a paid subscriber, leave a comment!
I acknowledge that this newsletter is written and illustrated on the traditional land of the Duwamish People, past and present. I honor with gratitude the land itself and the Duwamish Tribe.