“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” —Isaiah 43:19
So it’s been a couple of months since I’ve written on this blog, and I feel I owe my readers a brief catch-up before I return to my regularly scheduled programming.
A lot has happened since I wrote that blog post back in June, and while I don’t feel the need to unload all the details online, I will say that the very next day my boyfriend texted, wanting to take a tangible action step toward recovery for his issues. Isn’t that classic? That’s not to say that everything turned up roses that next day—in fact it got even harder for a while, harder than it ever was—but something has begun to shift. And the thing is, the shift is happening not just in him or in us but in me.
And the shift in me has to be my focus.
Here’s the thing: my health, my mind and emotions, my body, and my spirit—they are in my keeping. It is not my boyfriend’s fault that I have gotten unhealthy. That I got to the point where my codependency, which is essentially when you take on the property and the problems of another when they are not yours to take on, reached its boiling point. Codependency has been a tendency for me in all my relationships, and it’s something I need to keep in check. So when my boyfriend’s issues reached their full-blown state, I was already there myself.
I got exhausted. Gained a lot of weight. My anxiety flared up more often. I pulled away from people and groups. I put most of my energy into worrying about my boyfriend and his doings. I fell back into my workaholicism and not taking care of my physical health, just the things that “needed” done. And I was at the end of my rope with my relationship. Crying a lot. Exhausted.
But something is shifting, and honestly, it’s in these past few weeks that the image is becoming clearer, like the now-retro Polaroid picture image that takes a few minutes to come into focus.
The first thing to become clear is that I am not well.
I am sick.
I need to recover and get healthy and strong again.
And so, while my boyfriend is starting back onto his path of recovery, I have been starting back onto mine.
In the past few weeks, we’ve had a number of mature, kinda-sobering discussions about our relationship and whether it is best for us to be in it right now. Typically, it’s not good to be in a relationship at this time, but we have been together a few years, and we have weathered a lot together in these few years. But we are both being honest that we need to focus on our own individual paths of health and recovery, knowing that this is the only real way our relationship can survive. We need to take things one step at a time, listening to the Holy Spirit and select individuals we trust and who know us.
We have to live one day at a time for now, and that is kinda okay for me. I am also trying to learn more about what he struggles with, while trying to take the armor down and let him into my struggles of anxiety, for example, instead of pushing him away in reaction or defense. We’re trying to be more patient and understanding with one another. He does not want me to place all my happiness into his becoming “better” when his recovery is going to be lifelong, and I am coming to terms with the fact that he has a disease, and I am trying to understand it while realizing that I need to get healthy and there are ways I may have contributed too.
Lately, our old fights don’t seem to fit us anymore. We’ve admitted they almost feel like they are happening outside ourselves. We both feel the Holy Spirit is leading us out of the old, chaotic patterns of before and into a new season, a new framework. We don’t have to stay where we were, not only in the world of addiction and codependency but also in our both holding grudges and unforgiveness and letting the enemy twist our sensitive natures, meant as a gift to understand one another, into fear-based reactions and assumptions. While I am cautious, I am seeing little sprouts poking through the soil, seedlings that are delicate yet sweet. And I believe that I will be my healthy and vibrant self again as I focus on me, not in a selfish, uncaring way but in a self-care way so that I can be the best for God, others, and myself.
The other day, I felt a rush of fear when my boyfriend mentioned liking a certain church; I immediately feared he might go there. (He’s been attending a Bible study with some men from that church as of late.) And then I felt the Holy Spirit speaking discernment that it is okay. It is okay if we do some things independently. This does not mean we are not a couple or that we are going to necessarily grow apart. What I’ve learned in literature on codependency is that when one of the partners begins to get healthy, the codependent feels uncomfortable, and there’s almost this desire to stay in the chaos because it is “comfortable.” (We both struggle with codependency.) I shared this with him a day or so later and that I wanted us to have a chance at being together healthy and whole, even if it feels weird at first or we do some things separately.
One day I believe we will share our story in all its messy-yet-testimonial-to-God’s-hand glory, and there’s more God winks I want to share even in this post, but I’m prone to overexpress in writing (and my man in speaking—neither of us tell a short story), but I will say that while we are cautious, a woman I trust and who knows a lot of the gory details and also God details of our relationship confirmed a Bible verse (Romans 15:13) that Justin and I saw on a license plate the other day on the way to church, one we noted and looked up later. She basically said we don’t have to walk out our steps together with the thought “this may not work out” foremost in our head. She basically said why not just enjoy what God is doing in this new season and follow His steps: Why not hope?
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Our pastor the other Sunday preached a sermon about living kingdom-minded. And he shared an illustration from sports to help us understand. (And somehow it stuck! Sorry, not a big sports girl.) But he talked about how Brett Favre played for a gazillion years for the Green Bay Packers and how it must have been so weird when he got traded to the New York Jets and had to put on his new team jersey. How he probably stood in front of a mirror and said over and over, “I am a New York Jet.” That he had to get comfortable in his new identity. And that perhaps we could look in the mirror each morning and see what jersey we are wearing.
I’m ready for a new season. I’m ready to walk in what God says about me—and about my relationship. I am no longer ashamed of us. Of him. Of me. I am tired of the enemy making me feel I am not worthy to share with another. What person is more worthy than one who has walked through struggles, learns from them, and shares what she learns? It’s time to walk step by step in my true identity, even if right now the “jersey” feels a little uncomfortable. I feel a fresh desire to work through my crap, so to speak, and to take action steps toward health and happiness as well as forgiveness and making amends with people I have hurt or neglected.
Pray for me. Pray for us. Pray for me again cause this summer cold won’t go away and I’m tired of being sick (insert whiny face here). Sending prayers and love to you. I plan on writing again soon.
A few things I want to make sure are clear:
- Being a caring person is okay and great! Learning and discerning what is your property and what is another’s property helps you to see when your caring is stepping over into codependency.
- There are a lot of resources if you feel like you need help in the arena of relationships. Of course, there’s the Bible and the Holy Spirit (a quiet time each day is a must), but there are also books like Codependent No More and The Language of Letting Go and Christ-based recovery groups like Celebrate Recovery and also groups for the partners of those with all types of addictions.
- Having just a few trusted people or a safe group you go to with difficult issues is okay. You don’t have to broadcast your struggles to everyone.
- Sometimes, taking space from a relationship is okay and necessary to take care of yourself, clear your head, and figure things out—and it allows God to work.
- I love you, and I care for you! Or I wouldn’t be writing this stuff. 😛
Have a great rest of the week!!!