I’ve been told life moves in seven year cycles. ‘How strange’, I thought back then.
In the early summer of 2015 my daughter moved to Germany. That began a period of my life that I stumbled my way through like a fork caught in a garbage disposal.
For nearly seven years I thought I had hit rock bottom time and time again. And maybe I did. Rock bottom, over and over. But I don’t think rock bottom is enough.
It’s not enough to scream in the mirror, “I want to change! I want to love myself!” It’s in daily behaviors that I show respect for myself (or not). It’s what I do. And having spent a lifetime building my tolerance for discomfort and ignoring any internal stop signs, no amount of rock bottom was going to teach me what to do. If anything, circling around rock bottom had become a way of life.
And so despite wanting a different life, I kept climbing that hill.
And then April 2022 happened. And I burnt out.
The term ‘burnout’ feels like an empty expression. I had touched that rail so many times before it had lost its fangs. But this was something different: less desperate, more cellular. Like a blanket of static. Existential burnout. The kind that no amount of vacation can chase away. The kind of burnout where instead of seeing myself in the mirror, there was a human shaped void where a person should have been.
Wherever that rail had been, a series of events pushed me so far past it, and I was now sitting uncomfortably on the other side. Completely lost, on the recommendation of a trusted friend, I went to a retreat outside of Nashville.
There are moments in life when you get exactly what you need, when you need it. This was one of those times.
I had spent the past seven years before that wrestling with my addictions (or as my therapist would call them- coping mechanisms). And then for the first time I saw it – ‘codependency’. Ok, I didn’t see it, or even understand it, I just felt it. That’s what changed. I felt what had been there since my earliest memories:
A deeply-rooted addiction that caused me to lose communication, trust, and respect for myself.
After leaving I began to get help. I did ‘self-care’ (another term that makes my skin crawl), and it wasn’t going to the spa or binging tv shows. It was setting a boundary, expressing my needs, vocalizing what I liked or didn’t like, and accepting the ramifications with grace.
I don’t even know if codependency is the seed beneath it all. But I don’t care because it feels like a page has been turned. And for the first time in many years I’m looking forward to the future.