The Recovering Codependent’s Field Guide to Healing From Heartbreak (2022)

Tactics to help you develop an identity of your own and survive the pain of a heartbreak

The Recovering Codependent’s Field Guide to Healing From Heartbreak (1)

As a recovering codependent, I understand how earth-shattering a breakup can be. In the throes of codependency, our romantic relationships are defined by our “excessive emotional or psychological reliance” on our partners. As such, we experience breakups more severely than most.

This is a tiny sample of what I wrote in my journal the day after a devastating breakup:

I cannot comprehend the degree of pain I’m in. I feel like it’s destroying me and thoughts of the future only drag me down further. I feel like I am dying. Please help me. Somebody, something, please. Please help me.

Therapist and codependency recovery expert Ross Rosenberg writes that, for the codependent person, a breakup causes pathological loneliness, which is “excruciating painful and is experienced physically, emotionally, existentially, and spiritually. […] In the throes of pathological loneliness, the [codependent] feels isolated, unloved, unsafe, and fundamentally unworthy.”

His statement perfectly describes my emotional state after my breakup one year and nine months ago. I felt as if the language did not exist for the particular type of hurt I felt. It was similar to grief, but tainted with the cutting edge that my partner hadn’t died; he’d chosen to leave me. This was the most painful part of all, and left me vulnerable to self-loathing, blame, and regret.

“I think the problem is that we depend on our lovers to love us the way we should love ourselves.” — Humble the Poet

In the weeks that followed, I was astounded by the dearth of professional support available to me. Myriad support groups and counselors existed for those who had suffered a loss, but none that treated heartbreak as a grief equivalent. The generic advice to “move on” and “focus on your hobbies” did not apply to me because, as a codependent person, I’d completely enmeshed my identity with my partner’s. In his absence, I was lost, even to myself.

Historically, codependency was used to describe the way families of alcoholics and addicts enabled the addict by “over-helping.” A broader definition has emerged of the codependent as someone who orients themselves around the needs or approval of others, even to their own detriment. (One diagnostic tool for codependence is the Spann-Fischer Codependency Scale. The higher you score on this test, the greater your tendency is towards codependent behavior.)

Though I didn’t realize it at the time, that breakup was a giant first step on my road to codependency recovery. Through my healing experience, I rediscovered the voice I’d lost, and it returned stronger and bolder than ever. I can now look back on this time of grief and healing as the most transformative experience of my life.

These are the 11 practices that made my breakup bearable and transformed my pain into a conduit for codependency recovery. You, too, can use these tactics to feel better and mature in ways that reduce your codependent behaviors and the pain they cause you.

In the four months following my breakup, I filled three journals. 750 pages. Each morning, I walked downstairs in my pajamas, brewed a hot mug of coffee, sat on the porch in the morning sun, and wrote. And wrote. And wrote.

Throughout my life, I’ve used Moleskines and Leuchtturms to document my high school romances, my transition to college, my first job, the highs and lows of sobriety, my leap of faith into self-employment, and more. Journaling my breakup was by far the most impactful application of my journaling habit to date. This is why: Journaling gave me an outlet where I could voice all of my grief, pain, longing, and loneliness.

After my breakup, I was amazed by the amount of pure, raw feeling the human heart can withstand. I was constantly bombarded by big, complicated emotions, and I needed an outlet where I could unpack them. My journal was a safe space to process my feelings. Unlike my dear friends and family, my journal was incapable of emotional exhaustion; it could listen to me process the same tired tales ad infinitum. It never admonished me for coming to the same revelations three times over.

One of the hallmarks of codependency is a tendency to hide real feelings. Journaling provides a safe place for you to be honest about your feelings. It gives you practice in examing your feelings and expressing them, rather than the performative ways you might have been seeking approval rather than being truly honest.

Journaling was the portal back to my identity

My identity had been interwoven with my partner’s. I had to re-learn myself in his absence. Journaling was the portal back to my voice — a voice that been buried by layers of codependency. By putting my pen to paper, crafting sentences in my own words, and voicing my own feelings, I reclaimed a sense of self. The mere habit alone — investing an hour or two each day in self-discovery — was a revolutionary act of self-care.

Journaling was the whiteboard where I unpacked my codependency and reframed my breakup

In this way, journaling became the gateway to my future — a future that held the possibility of growth and happiness. Here are the four prompts that I found most impactful. You might use them yourself:

  1. What painful memories affirm the “rightness” of my separation? Consider fights I had with my partner, the hurtful things he said or did, or traits I developed during the relationship that I disliked.
  2. What did I sacrifice by being in this relationship?
  3. In what ways did this relationship obstruct me from being the best version of myself?
  4. What opportunities are available to me now that I’m not in this relationship?

Grief baffles the human mind. Psychologist and author Suzanne Lachmann writes: “Once you start to get your mind around the reality of the loss, the intensity of your need to understand how, when, and why it happened can become all-consuming.”

After my breakup, I was desperate for answers. Why did my ex leave me? Why did it hurt so badly? How could I ease my pain? I was hungry for information that validated my experience and offered concrete suggestions for healing.

(Video) Guided Meditation for Healing Broken Hearts (Removing Negative Attachments)

I piled my nightstand high with literature on grief, loss, and spirituality. Whereas my breakup had been utterly disempowering, channeling my energy into research gave me a semblance of control. I couldn’t convince my partner to reunite with me, but I could empower myself by taking responsibility for my healing process. The books I found most effective fit three important criteria:

  1. They mirrored my experience
  2. They offered a pathway to hope
  3. They broadened my perspective

They mirrored my experience

In the throes of my grief, I often wondered if there was something wrong with me. How could I possibly feel so much pain? Was I permanently broken? Books that mirrored my experience reassured me that I was healing at the right pace. They reiterated, over and over, that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I highly recommend:

They offered a pathway to hope

I was reassured and inspired by testimonials from folks who had emerged into the light after the dark tunnel of grief. These small doses of hope became my motivation to do the hard work of healing. I highly recommend:

They broadened my perspective

After my breakup, I often felt as if my life had narrowed to a singular point: my loss and my pain. I benefited immensely from books that shook me from my ruminations and reminded me of the world’s breadth and scope. They became my respite. I highly recommend:

Full disclosure: I didn’t expect the pain of my breakup to last as long as it did. Each morning when I woke, my mind foggy with sleep and dreams, I thought to myself, ”This is it — today is the day I heal!” But moments later the pain of my reality flooded in and I become a sobbing wreck on my bedroom floor. Anyone who has ever suffered a loss will understand the cunning brutality of this momentary morning forgetting.

I was impatient to feel happy again. I expected that the self-knowledge I gained from my reading and journaling would expedite my healing process. But this vicious cycle of high hopes followed by pain and disappointment wasn’t sustainable.

When we distract ourselves from our pain with a flurry of motion, we fool ourselves into thinking we’re being productive. We fall victim to the addictive high of the quick fix. But as any hard worker in any field will tell you, there is no substitute for good, hard work.

I finally came to terms with the fact that I had to do the good, hard work of healing at my own pace. I decided to adjust my expectations. Every night before bed, I gently reminded myself, “Tomorrow when I wake up, I will feel great sadness.”

That statement, which sounds like a proclamation of defeat, became a great respite. When the grief flooded in like a predictable tide, I didn’t battle it tooth and nail. As a result of anticipating the feeling, I was able to surrender to it entirely, which made it pass more quickly.

When you are healing, keep in mind that you have been through a harrowing emotional trauma. Be kind to yourself by setting realistic expectations for your process. It takes time.

When my ex was the sun at the center of my solar system, I basked in his light and forgot the importance of my other connections. I was slow to respond to texts and calls. I prioritized evenings with my partner over evenings out with friends. My isolation stealthily whittled away my social circle.

After my breakup, I felt as if I’d been ejected from a two-and-a-half-year tornado. I looked around at the wreckage, bewildered and utterly alone.

Psychologist and meditation teacher Tara Brach posits that the root of all suffering is the experience of severed belonging. She writes,

“Our most fundamental sense of well-being is derived from the conscious experience of belonging. Relatedness is essential to survival. When we feel part of the whole, connected to our bodies, each other, and the living Earth, there is a sense of inherent rightness, of being wakeful and in love.”

I took her words to heart. In the weeks that followed my breakup, I swallowed my pride and sent texts to folks who had once been best friends and folks who had been mere acquaintances. I told them the truth: “I really need a friend right now.”

I was astounded by the open-heartedness of those who responded supportively. The day after my breakup, I had two hour-long phone calls with friends I hadn’t spoken to in months. Later, one friend rode his motorcycle 30 minutes across town to leave a bouquet on my doorstep. Another friend texted me every morning for a month to ask, “How is your heart today?”

These connections flooded my heart with messages that I desperately needed to hear: I want you in my life. You are worthy. You deserve love. You are not broken. I care about you. You are not alone. They broke me from the illusion of isolation and reminded me that, if I invested the smallest of efforts, I would never be alone.

If you’re anything like me, in your existential moments you may question these blossoming friendships. “What’s the point?” you may wonder morosely. “There’s no way I’ll ever feel the same connection to this person as I did to my ex.”

And you’re right. These connections won’t feel the same; they may even feel entirely unfamiliar. Though that newness can be painful when juxtaposed with your memory of comfortable familiarity, it is exactly what you need.

My friends offered fresh perspectives that enabled me to see myself in a different light. In their presence, I realized I was funny, and interesting, and lovable! Our fresh synergy opened my eyes to the colors of myself I’d forgotten. These colors became the building blocks of my stronger, bolder self-concept.

Susan J. Elliott and her book Getting Past Your Breakup are credited with popularizing the No Contact rule. Elliott writes:

(Video) Breaking Up - Healing & Closure from a broken relationship Spoken Meditation

“Whether they contact you or you want to contact them, avoid getting in touch with your ex. Giving in to the urge to contact will stall your healing. No Contact is necessary so that your mind can adjust to the new order of things… Contact just puts you back into the old world, and the mind slams on the brakes of grieving.”

After you and your ex have handled the necessary logistics of decoupling like splitting possessions, moving out, and handling finances, do not contact him under any circumstance. For any reason. Ever.

No phone calls. No emails. No text messages. No accidentally-on-purpose run-ins. Going totally No Contact means you also unfollow your ex on all social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Venmo.

This rule was difficult for me to swallow at first. At least when I followed my ex on social media, I could maintain the illusion of continued connection. Being disconnected entirely would mean accepting the reality of our breakup, which — spoiler alert — was exactly what I needed to do. Especially as a recovering codependent, I needed ample time and space from the person with whom I was enmeshed to rebuild a healthier sense of identity.

I broke the No Contact rule one time. I’d learned of a school shooting while sitting in the waiting room at my doctor’s office and, feeling the weight of my own mortality, felt compelled to reach out to my ex. I wrote a sentimental email reiterating my ongoing affection and expressing how challenging the preceding weeks had been.

I regretted this correspondence immediately after I hit send. The incessant chatter that had characterized my first post-breakup weeks rose up again with full force: I wonder when he’ll reply. I wonder what he’ll say. Does he hate me? Does he miss me? Does he still care about me?

In the hours between my email and his response, I could think of nothing else. When he did reply, his words were kind and appropriately distant.

It was crushing. Our exchange affirmed that things between us were irreconcilably changed. A simple email was the deepest connection I could ever hope to have with him again, and the pain of that truth stayed with me for days. Like Elliott warned: it stalled my healing.

Spare yourself the unavoidable grief and pain of reliving your breakup. Block your ex from all of your social media accounts and do not contact them, under any circumstances, for any reason, ever.

My breakup severed my interest in big goals and long-term plans. I had spent the last two and a half years dreaming with my partner in mind: where we might move, how our careers might overlap, whether we might have children — etc. etc. By necessity, my post-breakup priorities were much simpler. How will I get through this day? How can I avoid falling apart?

Seen through the lens of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, my lack of direction made complete sense. I couldn’t strive for self-actualization — which Maslow defines as “the full use and exploitation of talents, capabilities, potentialities, etc.” — until I had regained confidence in my basic physiological needs (food, water) and security needs (safety, health and wellness, financial security).

For many of us, reestablishing this simple baseline of security after a breakup requires great effort. Our bodies react to traumatic breakups the same way they might react to physical pain. After my breakup, my heart raced for eight days straight. For weeks, I didn’t sleep more than six hours a night and couldn’t stomach full meals. I had 2–3 panic attacks each week and experienced a smattering of derealization episodes. It the wake of the breakup, I needed to demonstrate to my harried nervous system that I was, in fact, safe and secure.

“Be very very very gentle with yourself. The world is very very very hard on you.” ― Srividya Srinivasan

And so, I gave myself permission to have one simple priority: to offer myself the greatest possible comfort. Every night, I brewed a mug of Kava tea before bed and breathed the steam deep into my lungs. I buried myself in layers: long johns, sweaters, sweatpants, wool socks. The weight on my body calmed me down and made me feel safer, similar to the way a weighted blanket might. I indulged in long, hot showers and massaged calming lavender oils into my skin.

You might be thinking: Hot showers? Sweat pants? How in the world will this ease my pain? How can these insignificant steps help me heal?

Your comforts will be different, of course. But here’s the thing: as codependents, we’ve been detached from our own desires for a long time. Maybe years, or even decades. After a breakup, we no longer have the illusion of being in touch with “our needs,” which were likely our partner’s needs. In this phase, we are archaeologists, excavating our true desires from beneath layers of repression and people-pleasing.

So give yourself permission to start small with this idea of what learning what you want. You might not yet know what you want out of your career, but you do know you love strolling around the lake in the morning. You may not yet know which city you want to relocate to, but you do know you’d like to take a mid-afternoon power nap.

These wants originate from your innermost self. Give that innermost self some time and encouragement to surface. By pursuing these small desires, you learn to trust yourself. You begin to realize that you are fully capable of being your own advocate and building the life you want.

Pay special attention to how it feels to meet your needs. Be patient. Don’t rush. This is a monumental step on the road to healing and recovery.

After my breakup, I moved into a new home in a new part of town, bought new furniture, and slept alone for the first time in two and a half years. Typically cheerful and optimistic, I was grieving, confused, and displaced.

When you’ve experienced emotional trauma, routine is essential for reestablishing your sense of stability. Particularly if you cohabitated with your ex, it’s likely that the majority of your pre-breakup routines included them. As you adjust to this new phase of your journey, stabilize yourself by creating new routines focused on your own self-care.

My morning and bedtime rituals grounded me, bookended each day with creature comforts, and relieved me of the burden of decision-making.

(Video) Abraham Hicks - How to Deal With Heartbreak? | Law Of Attraction

Keep your rituals simple. Each of mine contained five simple steps:

My morning ritual

  1. Make my bed. Plush pillows and blankets abound. My bed would be ready for a midday nap if I needed it.
  2. Brew a hot cup of coffee. Coffee was my preferred vice in those post-breakup days. Heavy on the cream and sugar.
  3. Sit on the porch and journal for an hour. Weather permitting, journaling on the porch gave me my daily dose of Vitamin D and the simple joy of watching little kiddos walk to school in the morning.
  4. 30-minute meditation. More on this in the next section.
  5. Make a breakfast smoothie. After my breakup, it was really, really hard for me to stomach full meals. My breakfast smoothies gave my body the calories it desperately needed. My favorite recipe combined banana, kale, carrots, walnuts, dates, a tablespoon of coconut oil, chia seeds, and soy milk. Mmmmm.

My bedtime ritual

  1. Don my coziest sleeping clothes. My favorite sleep outfit included a t-shirt, two layered XL men’s sweaters, a pair of baggy grey sweatpants, and a pair of fuzzy socks.
  2. Declutter my room. Clean room, clean mind.
  3. Put lavender oil in my essential oil diffuser. Scientists have proven that lavender can be as effective as soothing anxiety symptoms as Xanax, Valium, and Prozac. Even now, nearly two years later, the scent of lavender reminds me of the self-compassion of those post-breakup days.
  4. Write three things I’m grateful for on a Post-It note. What first struck me as a contrived self-help practice became a staple of my healing journey. Writing a miniature gratitude list kept everything in perspective. Even on the hardest days, there were highs alongside my lows.
  5. Read a chapter from a book. Check out Practice #2 for my list of recommended reads.

After a breakup, the thought of sitting in silence and feeling your feelings might sound unbearable. But meditation has been proven to help grieving individuals intercept and manage their pain in a calm and structured manner.

“There is something wonderfully bold and liberating about saying yes to our entire imperfect and messy life.” — Tara Brach

Dr. Melanie Greenberg writes that, after a breakup, the person who has been left “cycles through periods of avoiding the emotional pain and being able to distract herself, and periods of being flooded by intense feelings and obsessive thoughts.”

I can relate. After my breakup, my moods were erratic. One moment I’d be laughing with a friend over coffee; the next, I’d be sobbing in the bathroom stall. Meditation was a way to regulate my emotions. It helped me find moments of solace throughout an otherwise turbulent day. Meditation became my daily reassurance that even my most intense emotions were ephemeral.

Of all the meditations I tried — and there were many! — I recommend Tara Brach’s RAIN meditation. Designed to help people address feelings of insecurity and unworthiness, RAIN breaks the process down into four simple steps:

  1. Recognize what is happening;
  2. Allow the experience to be there, just as it is;
  3. Investigate with interest and care;
  4. Nurture with self-compassion.

For the codependent person, recognizing and allowing our feelings is a radical act. We have spent years jumping headfirst into others’ inner worlds in an attempt to avoid feeling our own feelings.

As such, tuning in to our own emotions may feel unfamiliar and scary. This is perfectly normal. As my sponsor lovingly reminds me: “You’re right where you’re supposed to be.” We are rediscovering ourselves. Our feelings are the foundation of the people we’re becoming.

As I mentioned in an earlier passage, codependents experience the loneliness following a breakup existentially and spiritually. We have spent months — years — enmeshed with our partners. In some ways, our relationships became our religion. In their wake, we may feel cosmically untethered.

After my breakup, I craved meaning and purpose beyond the limited scope of my world. I also needed a new framework for living. All my life, my modus operandi had been a combination of “Work hard!” and “You can do anything you set your mind to!” Control and micromanagement were my goonies on each shoulder, cheering me on through every pursuit.

My breakup was a shattering demonstration of the fact that there were many things I could not control — namely, others. I couldn’t make my ex love me. I couldn’t inspire him to “try one more time.” I couldn’t “work hard enough” to rebuild our broken relationship. I was totally powerless over him, which is the foundational awakening of codependency recovery.

I needed a new paradigm. Given what I’d experienced, I found myself drawn to the messages of impermanence and surrender underlying Buddhist thought. And so, four weeks after my breakup, I bravely boarded the bus to Harvard Square to attend a meditation gathering.

On this particular sunny September evening, my grief was wide and disembodied. The bus dropped me off a block away from my destination. All I had to do was cross a wide, grassy park, and I’d be there. And I swear — I couldn’t make it across the park. Golden leaves danced down from the trees and happy families meandered the park’s perimeter, laughing all the way. I was enraged by this juxtaposition: my black grief alongside this cheerful autumn night. I knelt down in the grass and cried.

I attribute my attendance that evening entirely to Boston’s shitty bus system and the fact that the next bus home wouldn’t come for 45 minutes. I finally tiptoed into the meditation hall, hood pulled low over my hair and face blotchy, and sat in the back row. I didn’t speak to anyone for the full 60 minutes. I did notice, though, that I wasn’t the only attendee with glassy eyes. The gathering was a smattering of humans across all ages, races, and emotional states. I wondered at this strange combination of people and the mysterious array of experiences that had led us here.

That night, the instructor led us through a practice that quieted our minds and helped us identify whatever we were feeling — joy, sorrow, anxiety, fear — in our bodies. After 45 minutes of sitting in silence, we were encouraged to share a bit about our experiences. I listened in silence, digesting little of what was said.

Despite having spoken with no one, I left that night feeling slightly less alone and slightly lighter. I came back the next week. And the following. And the following.

Unlike social gatherings, spiritual gatherings — like meditation circles, 12-Step meetings, church, temple, and dharma talks — have no expectation that attendees be in good spirits. You are encouraged to show up exactly as you are. These environments actively hold space for the raw potency of grief. You can stroll in as I did, eyes bloodshot with tears, and be held by the warm comfort of the community.

Though I understand — mind, body, and soul — the desire to self-isolate and curl up with ice cream and Netflix, don’t fall into that as a solution. Spiritual gatherings will broaden your perspective and give you hope and strength to carry on. They are worth the effort.

About a month after my breakup, my sweet friends ignored my pleas for solitude, dressed me in flattering clothes, and dragged me to an outdoor concert.

It was a quintessential late-summer affair with all of the requisite parts: abundant fireflies, food on the grill, a blazing campfire. There were hour-long periods where I didn’t think about my ex at all. When my friend dropped me off at home, I realized with a start that I felt genuinely happy for the first time in weeks. That moment was proof that happiness was possible without my ex.

I wanted to be able to remember the way I felt in that moment in the days and weeks that followed. I rushed to my bedroom, sat cross-legged in front of the mirror, and took a five-minute video on my iPhone that documented the evening in all its color.

(Video) Yoga of Relationship: Confessions of a Recovering Love Addict

I still have that video. My hair is windswept, my cheeks are sunburnt, and I’m smiling. I look directly into the camera and say:

“If you’re watching this, you’re probably having a really hard time. I’m making this video because I want to remind you of a couple of things.

You need to believe that deep feelings of satisfaction can come to you. Right now, I feel complete. I feel free. I feel sexy. I feel open. In this moment, I’m able to acknowledge my faults while also seeing that my breakup wasn’t my fault.

I love you. You can do this. These moments await you. They appear when you focus on yourself, when you don’t get too in your head, and you spend time in environments that nourish you — even if you don’t feel like it. Do it. It will help.

Right now, this happiness is so freeing and so beyond what I ever felt in my relationship. There is such a degree of self-actualization and clarity to it. It’s beautiful. I feel alive.”

In the months that followed, I watched that video upwards of 30 times. When I got swept away by pain and needed some relief — some sliver of hope that this wouldn’t last forever — I watched that video with the same urgency a castaway might grasp for water.

Document your good moments using any medium available to you. I preferred video because I could see the joy in my face and earnestness behind my eyes. In this way, you build yourself a customized toolkit that will lift you out of dark moments.

I’m a huge fan of DIY healing. All of the methods expressed so far this article are empowering ways to take the reins in your own recovery.

However, you don’t have to heal from heartbreak on your own. As a recovering codependent, a breakup may reflect deeply-entrenched patterns that have directed your behavior for years. Experienced professionals can help guide you through your healing process and support you in the work of codependency recovery.

“Step out of the history that is holding you back. Step into the new story you are willing to create.” — Oprah Winfrey

After my breakup, I sought support from both therapists and coaches. Each benefited me in distinct ways.

The benefits of therapy

Therapy was great for addressing the four P’s: problems, patterns, past, and pathology. It helped me understand the origins of my codependency and gave me the chance to notice how it manifested in my relationships, romantic and beyond. Certain forms of therapy, like DBT or dialectical behavioral therapy, offer concrete tools for mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. After my breakup, I benefited from therapy by:

  • Understanding how my family of origin impacted my codependency
  • Unpacking how my partner and I activated each other’s attachment systems
  • Unlearning unhealthy expectations of my romantic relationships
  • Identifying and creating a treatment plan for my anxiety

The benefits of coaching

Coaching is a future-focused, solution-oriented practice. It helped me clarify my vision for the future and determine specific action steps to get there. The coach/client relationship kept me accountable to my goals and celebrated my progress along the way. After my breakup, I benefited from coaching by:

  • Realizing and actualizing my dreams to begin a new career and move across the country
  • Creating a balance between different areas of my life, including romantic relationships, family, friends, health, work, and play
  • Establishing new daily habits related to mindfulness and wellness
  • Crafting healthy visions and expectations for future romantic partnerships

It has been nearly two years since that breakup. Strangely, I look back on those post-breakup months as the most peaceful time of my life. Never before had I given myself permission to prioritize my own needs so completely, or let go of the illusion of control so absolutely. There was something deeply spiritual about that time.

Though it was mightily painful, I look back on it fondly. Writing this piece has given me the opportunity to remember the emotional breadth of that experience and acknowledge how far I’ve come since then.

“We break so we can become.” — Holly Whitaker

This list of tools is not exhaustive. I encourage you to customize your healing journey and cherry-pick the methods that best serve you.

Surviving my breakup — and thriving thereafter — taught me that I was stronger and more resilient than I’d ever realized. It fueled a fantastic healing journey that continues to this day. In the nearly two years since, I’ve moved across the country, begun a new career, and been part of healthy romantic relationships in which I’ve set clear boundaries and spoken my truth.

Take it from someone who has been right where you are: It gets so much better. I promise. As Deepak Chopra so eloquently says:

“In the process of letting go, you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself. “— Deepak Chopra

👉The Better Humans publication is a part of a network of personal development tools. For daily inspiration and insight, subscribe to our newsletter, and for your most important goals, find a personal coach.👈

(Video) Codependency in Mothers and Daughters with Judith Rabinor, PhD


Why are breakups so hard for codependents? ›

Codependents have difficulty letting go. Breakups affect our self-esteem more than it does for people who are secure and confident. This is because breakups trigger hidden grief and cause irrational guilt, anger, shame, and fear.

How do I break my codependency with my ex? ›

Tips to help you move on from a codependent relationship
  1. Remind yourself of the problems in your past relationship. ...
  2. Set boundaries and stick to them. ...
  3. Build your sense of self. ...
  4. Try journaling. ...
  5. Dont look for a new relationship or partner to make you happy or heal your childhood wounds. ...
  6. Take good care of yourself.
17 Aug 2018

Are codependents fixers? ›

A codependent person has poor boundaries, the need to control resulting in them being manipulative at times, poor self worth, and they tend to take on the role of rescuer or caretaker. Oftentimes they self identify as the “fixer”.

What happens when two codependents get together? ›

A codependent couple will not be good for each other. Usually, they will get together because one or both of them has a dysfunctional personality, and more often than not they will make each other worse. For example, people involved with narcissists will find themselves giving and giving, but it's never enough.

What triggers codependency? ›

Codependency issues typically develop when someone is raised by parents who are either overprotective or under protective. Overprotective parents may shield or protect their children from gaining the confidence they need to be independent in the world.

What is toxic codependency? ›

One person is “troubled” and tends to absorb the other's energy and resources by behaving selfishly. The other person, the Codependent, compulsively takes care of the other at the cost of their own wellbeing and independence.

How do codependents hurt others? ›

Instead of meeting their own needs, they meet the needs of others, and instead of responding to their own thoughts and feelings, they react to those of others. It's a haywire system, because they have to control others to feel okay, but that just makes matters worse and leads to conflict and pain.

What are some codependent behaviors? ›

Common codependent behaviors can include:
  • Manipulation.
  • Emotional bullying.
  • Caretaking to the detriment of our own wellness.
  • Caregiving.
  • Suffocating.
  • People-pleasing (ignoring your own needs, then getting frustrated or angry)
  • Obsession with a partner.
  • Excusing bad or abusive behavior.
5 Aug 2019

What happens when a codependent leaves a narcissist? ›

When narcissists leave a codependent, they often make them feel like they will never come back. They do this to put you on edge so you will be lost and overwhelmed by fear that you have been abandoned. Being in a state of fear and anxiety makes it harder to think clearly about what's happening.

How do you detach in a codependent relationship? ›

Examples of Detaching
  1. Focus on what you can control. ...
  2. Respond dont react. ...
  3. Respond in a new way. ...
  4. Allow people to make their own (good or bad) decisions.
  5. Dont give advice or tell people what they should do.
  6. Dont obsess about other peoples problems.
  7. Set emotional boundaries by letting others know how to treat you.
17 Apr 2017

Can codependents have healthy relationships? ›

No, codependents usually cannot have healthy relationships without first getting treatment for their codependency. They tend to have many short-lived relationships because their neediness often becomes too much for their partner. Codependent behavior is often ingrained in a person from a young age.

How do you know if your relationship is beyond repair? ›

5 Signs Your Relationship Is Beyond Repair
  1. 1) You keep breaking up and getting back together. ...
  2. 2) You're afraid of your significant other. ...
  3. 3) Your bond or feelings have dissipated. ...
  4. 4) Your relationship is tainted with toxicity. ...
  5. 5) One or both of you aren't willing to make an effort.
28 Nov 2017

Is being a fixer a trauma response? ›

I learned that there is a dark side to being a relationship fixer. It can be a trauma response, rooted in fear of abandonment. The manifestations of beliefs we learned growing up: that you must fight for love because it's conditional; and you have to prove your worth to earn respect and validation of others.

What kind of person is a fixer? ›

A person with a fixer mentality must fix anything they perceive as defective, hurt, or lacking in happiness. They almost do so automatically because, in reality, they're often the true survivors of some kind of past damage. They're the ones who, after all, carry a wound of unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

Who are codependents attracted to? ›

Codependents seek out partners whom they can save and get drowned in taking care of their partners while never being taken care of themselves. Like a pair of dysfunctional puzzle pieces perfectly fitting together floating across a sea of misery, codependents attract those who desire caregivers and enablers (vampires).

Do codependents attract narcissists? ›

There is often an attraction between individuals with codependent tendencies and those with narcissistic tendencies. Initially, a narcissistic personality can be attractive for their charisma and confidence, among other personal traits.

Can two codependents be happy? ›

Can two codependents have a healthy relationship? Yes, they definitely can. But only when successfully recognize their issues and taking positive steps to deal with them. Self-control is also key to having this healthy relationship.

Is codependency a mental illness? ›

Codependency is neither an officially recognized personality disorder nor an official mental illness. Rather, it is a unique psychological construct that shares significant overlap with other personality disorders.

Do codependents get angry? ›

Symptoms of codependency, such as denial, dependency, lack of boundaries, and dysfunctional communication, contribute to anger. Because of dependency, codependents attempt to control others in order to feel better, rather than to initiate effective action.

What kind of trauma causes codependency? ›

Childhood trauma is often a root cause of codependency. They don't always result, but for many people codependent relationships are a response to unaddressed past traumas. One reason may be that childhood trauma is usually family-centered: abuse, neglect, domestic violence, or even just divorce and fighting.

What are the signs of trauma bonding? ›

Signs of trauma bonding.
  • You look past red flags for the allure of the honeymoon phase. ...
  • You defend your partner's bad behaviors. ...
  • You feel drained and avoid open communication. ...
  • You don't feel like yourself and keep secrets. ...
  • You maintain persistent loyalty even in the face of danger. ...
  • Romanticizing "intense" relationships.

What does a trauma bond feel like? ›

Trauma bonding occurs when a person experiencing abuse develops an unhealthy attachment to their abuser. They may rationalize or defend the abusive actions, feel a sense of loyalty, isolate from others, and hope that the abuser's behavior will change.

What are codependents afraid of? ›

Codependent fears

As a result, codependents tend to fear rejection, criticism, not being good enough, failure, conflict, vulnerability, and being out of control. So, situations and people that trigger these fears can spike our anxiety.

Are codependents afraid to be alone? ›

For adults in particular, studies show that codependency is often linked to feelings of anxiety, low self-esteem, stress, pathological loneliness, and depression. Those in marginalized communities — gay men and women, as well as queer people as a whole, people of color, disabled people, etc.

Why do codependents obsess? ›

Codependent individuals obsess about our relationships because they distract us from being alone with ourselves and give us a place where we can replicate the meaning-making activities of our childhood, including care-taking, self-sacrifice, and martyrdom.

How do you fix a codependent personality? ›

9 Tips on How to Become Less Codependent in Your Relationship
  1. Put your own needs first. ...
  2. Practice mindfulness. ...
  3. Practice self-care. ...
  4. Communicate with your partner. ...
  5. Identify patterns in your life. ...
  6. Set boundaries for yourself. ...
  7. Offer healthy support to your partner. ...
  8. Learn to say no.
15 May 2022

How do you tell if someone is codependent on you? ›

9 Warning Signs of a Codependent Relationship
  1. People Pleasing. ...
  2. Lack of Boundaries. ...
  3. Poor Self-Esteem. ...
  4. Caretaking. ...
  5. Reactivity. ...
  6. Poor Communication. ...
  7. Lack of Self-Image. ...
  8. Dependency.
25 May 2021

What is high functioning codependent? ›

High functioning codependency is a behavior characterized by blurred boundaries and an imbalance in relationships. In highly functioning codependent relationships, one person takes responsibility for fulfilling another person's needs, trying to control all aspects of their relationship.

How does a narcissist dump you? ›

Relationships with narcissists tend to follow a pattern that plays out again and again. They draw you in close, then when you least expect it, they abruptly withdraw. When they are done with you, they will dump you. Usually, for a reason that seems due to no fault of your own.

What does a narcissistic codependent relationship look like? ›

They use others toward their own ends and exploit relationships without feelings of guilt or remorse. They push blame off on others and are unable to see their own part in wrong doing. It is easy to see how codependents and narcissists get hooked up.

Why is it so hard to leave a narcissist? ›

Fear of being alone – Narcissists are skilled at destroying their partner's social circles and relationships with family members. The prospect of leaving may equate to a feeling of being truly alone; Fear of reprisals – The narcissist may have created a culture of fear and anxiety in their partner's life.

How do you let go of someone you still love? ›

How to let go of someone
  1. Recognize when it's time. Learning when it's time to let go is often the most difficult part of this process. ...
  2. Identify limiting beliefs. ...
  3. Change your story. ...
  4. Stop the blame game. ...
  5. Embrace the “F” word. ...
  6. Master your emotions. ...
  7. Practice empathy. ...
  8. Adopt an attitude of gratitude.

How do you detach from someone you love deeply? ›

How to let go of someone you love
  1. Identify the reason. Ask yourself why you're now deciding to detach from the relationship. ...
  2. Release your emotions. ...
  3. Don't react, respond. ...
  4. Start small. ...
  5. Keep a journal. ...
  6. Meditate. ...
  7. Be patient with yourself. ...
  8. Look forward.

How do you detach and still love? ›

How to detach with love
  1. Not giving unsolicited advice.
  2. Setting boundaries.
  3. Allowing others to experience the natural consequences of their actions.
  4. Recognizing that your feelings and needs are valid.
  5. Expressing your own opinions and feelings.
  6. Taking a time-out from an unproductive or hurtful argument.
11 Jun 2020

Who do codependents marry? ›

Within a codependent marriage, one partner has extreme emotional or physical needs, and the other partner is willing to do whatever it takes to meet those needs. The codependent is so in love, and they want that love reciprocated.

Do codependents attract each other? ›

Very often, codependents attract a certain type. Used to giving and sacrificing, they naturally tend towards partners who like to take and receive anything that is on offer. In short, it is the perfect fit. Codependents tend to be with partners who have self-centered tendencies.

What's the opposite of codependent? ›

Codependency, the habit of gaining your self worth from pleasing others, is something most people know of nowadays. But it's lesser known opposite, called counterdependency, can be just as much of a problem.

Does space help a broken relationship? ›

Spending time apart can make your relationship a whole lot healthier, Erickson says, because it gives you both a chance to reconnect with your own values, desires. It'll be easier to connect in a genuine way after you've had some space, as well as a lot more exciting.

How do you know when a relationship is really over? ›

There are also other warning signs, and if one or more of them are present in your relationship, it may be time to take action.
  1. There's no emotional connection. ...
  2. Communication breakdown. ...
  3. Aggressive or confrontational communication. ...
  4. There's no appeal to physical intimacy. ...
  5. You don't trust them. ...
  6. Fantasising about others.

How do you know when he is done with the relationship? ›

The warning signs your relationship is over for him
  • He makes little effort to communicate.
  • He becomes evasive – avoiding anything to do with you.
  • He pushes you away when you want to get close.
  • He doesn't show up when he promised.
  • He can't be bothered to be 'nice'.
  • He is mean to you.
  • He blames you for everything.
24 Sept 2010

When should you stop trying to fix a relationship? ›

10 giveaways to stop trying to fix a relationship
  • Ignored needs. As mentioned, we all have needs, but if you can't find a way to reconcile your needs, this could be one of the signs your relationship is beyond repair. ...
  • Secrecy and fear. ...
  • Abuse and trauma. ...
  • You're trying to change your partner. ...
  • No intimacy. ...
  • Emotional disconnect.
30 Dec 2021

Why do I keep attracting broken people? ›

One reason you might appear to keep attracting broken people is because you never fully believe that they are as broken as they seem. There's a difference between believing the best in someone and just not believing them at all.

What causes fixer personality? ›

Why People Develop Fixer Syndrome. The desire to “fix” people, or not wanting them to experience pain, usually comes from good intentions. Fixers like Carol mean well. Their need to step in and help often originates from their own experiences of needing help.

How do I know if Im a fixer? ›

21 Signs You're A Definite 'Fixer'
  1. You're basically the mom of your friend group. ...
  2. You often find yourself suuuuper stressed. ...
  3. You tend to date people with a lot of baggage…or extremely sketchy pasts.
  4. You are a love-guru for a least three of your closest friends.
15 Apr 2016

What does it mean to be a fixer in a relationship? ›

A Fixer is someone who is attracted to people they can fix. They will try to help that person, give them attention, check-in with them, are always there for them, give them emotional support, try to fix their problems by giving advice, almost like a free and unlicensed therapist.

How do you deal with the end of a codependent relationship? ›

Ending codependency

Effectively managing your anxiety. Focusing on your own needs and practicing self-care without guilt. Learning more about healthy relationships and personal rights. Setting boundaries, using assertive communication and healthy conflict resolution skills.

What happens when a codependent leaves a narcissist? ›

When narcissists leave a codependent, they often make them feel like they will never come back. They do this to put you on edge so you will be lost and overwhelmed by fear that you have been abandoned. Being in a state of fear and anxiety makes it harder to think clearly about what's happening.

Is it possible to recover from codependency? ›

Some individuals are able to overcome codependency on their own. Learning about what it means to be codependent and the harm it causes can be enough for some individuals to change their behavior. Some steps you can take to overcome codependence include: Look for signs of a healthy relationship.

Can a codependent relationship be saved? ›

Stopping and changing a codependent relationship is no easy task. A counselor can guide you through the process to end codependence as you both learn new ways of thinking and behaving that are different to avoid codependence. You can have some effect simply by acting in ways that aren't codependent.

What are some codependent behaviors? ›

Common codependent behaviors can include:
  • Manipulation.
  • Emotional bullying.
  • Caretaking to the detriment of our own wellness.
  • Caregiving.
  • Suffocating.
  • People-pleasing (ignoring your own needs, then getting frustrated or angry)
  • Obsession with a partner.
  • Excusing bad or abusive behavior.
5 Aug 2019

How do codependents hurt others? ›

Instead of meeting their own needs, they meet the needs of others, and instead of responding to their own thoughts and feelings, they react to those of others. It's a haywire system, because they have to control others to feel okay, but that just makes matters worse and leads to conflict and pain.

Is codependency a mental illness? ›

Codependency is neither an officially recognized personality disorder nor an official mental illness. Rather, it is a unique psychological construct that shares significant overlap with other personality disorders.

Who are codependents attracted to? ›

Codependents seek out partners whom they can save and get drowned in taking care of their partners while never being taken care of themselves. Like a pair of dysfunctional puzzle pieces perfectly fitting together floating across a sea of misery, codependents attract those who desire caregivers and enablers (vampires).

Why do codependents love narcissists? ›

Initially, a narcissistic personality can be attractive for their charisma and confidence, among other personal traits. A codependent person can come off at first as kind and selfless on top of other individual attractive traits. This pair may connect for a variety of reasons, including the mutual need to feel needed.

How does a narcissist dump you? ›

Relationships with narcissists tend to follow a pattern that plays out again and again. They draw you in close, then when you least expect it, they abruptly withdraw. When they are done with you, they will dump you. Usually, for a reason that seems due to no fault of your own.

What is the best therapy for codependency? ›

While some individuals may be able to break out of patterns of codependent behavior on their own, often it requires professional treatment. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps individuals focus on understanding behaviors and changing reactions.

What are the tools of recovery for codependency? ›

Codependency recovery
  • Make self-care a priority. Self-care means valuing yourself and giving yourself love and compassion, says Schiff. ...
  • Nurture your social relationships. ...
  • Get comfortable setting and maintaining boundaries. ...
  • Find healthy ways to regulate emotional responses with your partner. ...
  • Practice self-soothing behaviors.

What does codependency recovery look like? ›

Signs of Codependency Recovery. You validate your feelings and say nice things to yourself. You dont rely on other people to make you feel valid and worthy. You notice what you do right rather than only the things you do wrong or imperfectly.

How do codependents heal? ›

Healing codependency involves: 1) Untangling yourself from other people, 2) Owning your part, 3) Getting to know yourself, and 4) Loving yourself.

Can codependency go both ways? ›

A codependent relationship can be one where both partners have this dysfunctional reliance on the other, or it can be totally one-sided, with only one person looking to the other, who may actually like having so much control.


1. URGENT MESSAGES From Your Spirit Guides 💌 Pick A Card
2. How to Get Over Break Ups and Betrayal - Jocko Willink and Echo Charles
(Jocko Podcast)
3. Let Them Go | Dr Joe Dispenza Relationship Advice
4. One Mindset to Conquer Rejection
(Matthew Hussey)
5. Heal from Narcissistic Relationship Fast! – Learn How, NOW!
(Sarah Pacaro - Toxic Relationship Healing Expert)
6. "Facing Heartbreak and Breakups" Sleep Hypnosis by Meditation Station (Original Session)
(Meditation Station)

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