THE DEPENDENCIES WE KEEP by Peggy
When I was growing up, I didn’t have very close relationships with either of my parents. My father was always working and was the designated disciplinarian. My mother was one of those mothers who would say, “Just wait until your father gets home!” I was born 3rd out of 6 children so my mother was very busy. I can remember as a small child, wanting to get up on her lap just to get a hug and she’d say, “Not now, honey, I’m feeding the baby.” Or she’d be too pregnant and not have room for me to even sit with her.
As I approached the age of 16 my parents were going through a very messy divorce. I became rebellious. I hated being at home. I remember coming home very late one night and as my mother heard me come in, she asked me where I had been. I told her that I was just out with some friends and she said that I was nothing but a “tramp.” I continued on in my rebellious lifestyle and started getting into sex, drugs and rock & roll. While I was on a trip out west with my youth group from church, there was a message waiting for me from my mother as we checked in at one of our scheduled stops. I called her, and she told me that I had gotten my wish; I would be staying with my father. I had chosen to stay with my father because he was very lenient with me and I could continue on in my rock & roll lifestyle without any interruption. I realize now that I was just starving for affection and just wanted to be liked and accepted. I became sexually promiscuous which got me into all kinds of trouble. I found myself in sexually abusive situations many times, which I know was not good attention, but at least I was getting the attention I so desperately needed and desired.
Not long after graduating from high school, I met a woman who lived in my apartment building. She eventually introduced me to her brother and arranged for us to all go out on a double date with her and her boyfriend. Well I ended up marrying her brother within the next couple of years and, I’m happy to say that we will be celebrating our 25th anniversary this year! I became pregnant with our daughter shortly after we got married. I quickly had a 2nd child, a son 18 months after our daughter was born. After several years, a job opportunity for my husband came up in the Denver area. We thought it might be kind of nice to live in Denver, so we put the house up for sale and packed up the family and moved to Colorado.
I was able to find a job soon after we moved to Denver and began working with a woman who quickly took me under her wing and taught me all I needed to know about office politics. It wasn’t too long before this woman became very controlling, manipulative and intimidating to me. It wasn’t until I was able to learn from the teachings and many resources available at Where Grace Abounds that this was characteristic of a codependent relationship.
Codependents become afraid to let themselves be who they are. I always felt myself agreeing with this woman, even when I didn’t. They also try to control events and people through helplessness, guilt, coercion, threats, advice giving, manipulation or domination. This woman totally controlled and manipulated me. Many codependents didn’t feel love and approval from their parents. As I mentioned before, I felt this about my relationship with my parents. They often seek love from people incapable of loving and stay in relationships that don’t work. They let others hurt them. The relationship with this woman, she hurt me a lot. She would tell me I wasn’t professional enough to stay in the position I had. She would totally intimidate me by saying I wouldn’t even have been in that position if it weren’t for her. Well, I put up with this for almost 3 years. Finally, by the grace of God, I received a sense of peace and a strength came upon me. I was able to stand up for myself and told this woman that I could no longer be the type of friend she wanted me to be. I was through being her friend. What a relief and weight that was lifted off of my shoulders as I was able to finally tell her this.
After breaking free from that relationship I felt such a loss and was so desirous of a friendship. Even though it was manipulative and intimidating it was a friendship. It wasn’t long until I started forming another friendship with a woman whom I had just met at my church. She and I quickly became friends. We started lingering after choir practices to talk, and we talked a lot! We shared stories about our struggles in our marriages. I shared my stories of abuse with her. She shared her stories of her battle with depression and how she’d previously attempted suicide. Well, this became an emotionally dependent relationship, which eventually (and thankfully) brought me to the wonderful ministry of Where Grace Abounds.
Emotional Dependency is just one of the characteristics of codependency and occurs when the ongoing presence and nurturing of another is believed to be necessary for personal security. This nurturing may come in many different forms, such as attentiveness, listening, admiration, counsel, affirmation and time spent together. The two of us spent a lot of time together, listening, counseling and paying attention to one another.
We found ourselves in such an enmeshed, entangled affair that we didn’t know what to do. We knew that what we were doing was not right, but found it difficult to break free from our enmeshment. It just started out as a friendship that blossomed very quickly and emotionally. We shared a lot of stories with each other. We cared for one another. We were so in sync with one another that we could actually tell what the other was thinking and finish each other’s sentences. That’s how emotionally connected we were. As the relationship became physical and sexual, we quickly realized that this was not a good situation to be in. We knew that we had to do something to break free from this and make things right with God and our families. We were referred to Where Grace Abounds, offered some good resources and decided to dive right in. My husband and I have been so blessed by the dear friendships we have formed through the staff and leadership of Where Grace Abounds. I’m so thankful and blessed to have been able to give back to the ministry all that was given to me, by serving on the Where Grace Abounds leadership team for many years. I even lead the group in worship once a month for a season, and it just warms my heart to be a part of such a wonderful, worshipful, supportive community. Thank you so much, WGA, for being here when there was nowhere else to turn. God bless the ministry of Where Grace Abounds!
“In all my prayers for all of you; I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:4-6