2016 was a year of personal growth
I looked back on the year as best as I could and found 7 ways I’ve grown as a person.
I’ve never done this before. Like in my post on my first CoDA birthday, I mentioned I don’t really take stock of time that has passed.
But this year is different. I want to take charge, I want to own and chart my progress, my growth, my healing, my recovery!
I meant to write this at the end of December, but it did not happen. But I’m glad it’s finally happening now.
1. I stopped chasing people
One of my 2016 new year resolutions was to stop asking people out.
I realised all these years, it was me asking people out, and never the other way round. Unknowingly, I grew increasingly tired and frustrated. I also questioned my own worth – did people not like me? “Do they not WANT to see me?” “Why is it me who wants to SEE them?”
I felt like the girl who was constantly trying to ask out the boy she liked. I realised that friends are like crushes – if the communication is only one-way, you know that the relationship is not balanced. What comes to mind is the movie He’s Just Not That Into You. It’s the SAME with friends (and even work colleagues), anyone, actually!
So I decided to stop “chasing” these so-called friends, and then see what happened.
Guess what happened? Nothing. Yup, nothing. Two friends wished me on my birthday, one initiated a meet-up end of the year. It was then I knew that maybe these people didn’t prioritise me as much as I prioritised them. Or maybe they didn’t care if they met with me or talked with me on the phone or texted me. Hmmm…
As my husband said, I had yet to accept friends drift apart and may become less close over time.
Since I’m Codependent, I always view others as more important than me, more worthy than me, and typically assign them as my Higher Power. So this highlighted to me how much I depend on others.
I gradually became at peace with this, and accepted what I was taught in recovery – there will be people who will fall away and likewise, there will be other people who will enter, during my journey of healing and self-discovery.
Those who fall away, I will let them; those who will come into my life, I welcome them.
2. I learnt to identify how I am feeling
When I started therapy, I learnt that feelings are important. Feelings are not meant to be controlled, they just “are”. That’s one of the reasons I sought therapy – I thought I could learn to control my explosive feelings around my mom!
Since I never knew feelings were an important aspect to everyday life and my emotional wellbeing was actually a thing, I never learnt that we need to be “emotionally literate”. I never knew I need to know how to identify my feelings.
But over time and with practice, I can say for certain that I am much better than I used to be before I started therapy with Steve.
He taught me there are 4 main emotions:
Mad, Glad, Sad, Scared
Since he simplified it for me, it helped me in identifying how I feel. You can read more about being emotionally aware here.
3. I stopped asking my husband every little thing
I’ve always had self-esteem issues, and when my mental health took a tumble around the time I got married, I started asking my husband questions on EVERYTHING.
I lost confidence in myself. I did not trust my own judgement. I had trouble making decisions (Codependency trait).
One example I like to talk about is when I went to him pretty often to ask him to sniff certain pieces of clothing to decide if it should go into the wash. It came to a point where he got bewildered and frustrated when he asked me why can’t I decide this on my own.
When he expressed this to me, I didn’t see it as a confidence or esteem issue; I thought it was something I always asked and never thought it was anything wrong since he always replied me anyway. I thought he was the one being unreasonable and a bully.
When this was identified as a Codependency trait (Low Self Esteem Pattern), this IMMEDIATELY came to mind. And realising what was going on, I stopped asking him about dirty clothing entirely. I decided I could decide on such small matters by myself!!! I am empowered to make my own decisions. And even if the clothing could be worn again, and I washed it, so what?? It was just a piece of clothing!
When I think back about this, I can see how incredulous this was, and how I ridiculous was. And I can totally understand my husband’s frustration!
4. I finally looked at my wedding photos
We got married in 2015.
I was traumatised by having to plan my own wedding for a year, shouldering all responsibility, and many things didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to on the wedding day.
My mother further added to my trauma by saying mean things like why is the videographer focusing on my husband’s singing on stage and insisted on taking photos and I totally missed the song he prepared for me 🙁
After the wedding, she also provided what she possibly thought was constructive feedback about the decor, how things could have been done better, how her friend was denied beer by the staff and how sorry she felt. I felt it was needless information because unless I was going to have another wedding, there was NO POINT in telling me that my wedding was “not good enough”.
So a year after I could distance myself from the trauma, I finally looked at the photos.
Also for the fact that my mom’s long-time friend who lives overseas got in touch to ask about the photos, so I had to send them to her.
To this day, my mom thinks I procrastinated and sat on what she thinks is a priority – printing the photos and distributing them. In that sense, she always thinks about herself first. And expects others to do the same – prioritise HER.
I was also hesitant because my sister and brother-in-law commented that the photographer was not great. Being Codependent means I care a lot (too much) about what other people think and feel.
I’m glad that I finally let go of a whole load of emotional baggage and was ok to look at my own photos. There were some I really liked. But I could see through my smiles and recall clearly how I was putting on a front on my wedding day.
(In another post I wrote about how I was reluctant to look at my wedding video.)
5. I took off my crown of superiority
I’ve always had a superiority complex and think “lesser” of others. Like when people display behaviour that I disagree with, when they mispronounce words, exhibit an intellect that I deem as lower than mine, wear clothes that I think are ugly, when someone’s make-up is badly done, etc etc etc…
In Codependency recovery, I’ve learnt this is borne out of my low self-esteem, or as I like to joke, my “no self-esteem”.
My superiority complex is:
- A facade to hide my low self-esteem
- The resentment I have toward others due to my mother constantly praising others and therefore I feel others SHOULD be better than me, and if they showed that they aren’t, I would look down on them.
- Judging harshly what others think, say or do (Codependency – Avoidance Pattern)
Since I’ve learnt this is a Codependency trait, I’ve gradually balanced my view of myself vs others. No one is more than or less than anyone else.
We all bleed the same colour.
6. I grew compassion toward others
Since I started taking care of my mental health, I had an increasing awareness towards “invisible illnesses”. Be it mental illnesses (diagnosed or undiagnosed), addictions, physical illnesses such as PCOS, POTS, Fibromyalgia, early onset Rheumatoid Arthritis, etc etc etc…
This is a video by The Mighty, which two spoonies I’ve come to know on Social Media, approve as a video that very accurately describes their daily sufferance of chronic pain. I definitely gained a ton of insight, because pain is literally INVISIBLE.
My heart grew bigger just by watching this video. I hope more people will get to watch this video too, so that they’ll come to understand and even empathise with Chronic Pain sufferers who go through this every… single… day!!
This is how high-functioning Anxiety is like, as described again by The Mighty…
If I myself was not in my own mental health recovery, I would be the same inner critic toward myself as everyone who is ignorant or unaware of such issues. I would say the same things:
- Get over it, won’t you?
- It’s all in your head.
- You’re just seeking attention.
7. I became less reactive around my mom
I got into therapy because I wanted to mend my relationship with my mother who has ill health, and did not want to live with regret if she were to pass suddenly.
We’ve had a very strained and tumultuous mother-daughter relationship, which often ends up with me exploding in rage and hurting myself and her in the process.
I always felt guilty afterward, because I couldn’t seem to control how I behaved around her. And also, I didn’t like my involuntary “rage face” whenever she was in close proximity. My moody face was probably all my pent-up angst, unmet needs of approval and affirmation and my defenses toward her.
In short, she triggered me VERY easily.
With therapy, group therapy, going for Codependents Anonymous meetings, expressing myself on my blog and Social Media, I learnt various ways to cope with my mom’s ridiculousness, antics and basically her being her. I learnt to detach, I learnt that it was her and not me, I learnt how to be in better control of myself (to control what I can and am supposed to), not to let her “play” me or be entangled with her attempts at emotional blackmail…
I learnt to respond, and not react.
I’ve not mastered it yet of course. But there definitely is improvement. I don’t get into heated arguments with her anymore.
As they say, “Progress, not Perfection”.
I’ve made some new year’s resolutions, and I’m eager to share that too.
I’d be glad to hear your feedback or thoughts on my look back. Do feel free to share how your 2016 went!
See you in my next post 🙂