The curious paradox

I am not sure who I am sometimes.

Take away my marriage, my primary relationship of the past 16 years, and I am lost.

Take away my family, my role as a mother; change it from full-time to part-time, and I am lost.

I had a vision not too long ago; wide awake and crystal clear. I was an Amy-hot-air-balloon. Seriously, it was me, inflated. And below me were all of these men in my life, each of them holding tight to a rope, keeping me from rising into the air and floating away. My husband was in the middle of this circle of men, directly beneath me. One by one, they all started to loosen their slack, let go of their ropes. My balloon-self began to float up a bit higher and I became panicked and fraught with terror. Then, without warning, my husband did the unthinkable; he dropped his rope and walked away without a backward glance. I floated a bit higher and panicked a bit more. As I panicked,  I kept replacing the men below my balloon self with new, imaginary men. They were faceless, nameless, but it didn’t matter because I needed someone, anyone, to hold my ropes and anchor me to the ground. Without those people tethering me to themselves, to the ground, to reality, to life, I would float away, empty and lost forever.

This is what codependency feels like for me. I had that vision wide awake just sitting in my bed one day and it scared the shit out of me. How do I fill my empty-self up with something other than what my relationships with others refelct back to me? Without my husband in that center position, holding onto me, who the hell am I? Without the busyness of my family around every day, who the hell am I? What do I direct inward to fill that vacuum and finally come down, into myself, and stand on my own two feet; ropes be damned?

Perhaps it starts with self-love and self-acceptance and a bit of hope, patience, and compassion for one’s self. Maybe it starts with stopping those judgmental feelings (should’s, could’s, would’s) toward ourselves, others, and situations out of our control. I feel like I make huge leaps forward in my healing and then hit a wall or fall off a cliff and have to start all over again.

Or perhaps I am making progress that isn’t truly measurable but I can still feel it in my heart.

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” Carl Rogers


  1. Maryann Vlahovich

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