The Fear of Co-Dependency and Lack of Individuality

I have a fear, and it is something that I think about constantly. This particular fear of mine dictates how I navigate my marriage and how I live my life. This fear is so terrifying to me that I make an extra effort to make sure that it never comes to life. So what is this fear? I am afraid of losing my individuality and becoming co-dependent.

I was fifteen years old when Stephen and I first started dating. The aftermath of the sexual assault was still fresh and my relationship with my parents was lacking. I didn’t really have friends, and I felt alone. I was desperate to find love, to find someone who wanted to spend time with me, to just find someone who found me to be somewhat worthy of them. I always envisioned having a partner who I had that special connection with. I used to wonder what it would feel like to have someone hold me, to laugh with me, to tell me that they were in love with me. I was craving it so badly, that when I found it, I gave into it. 

Stephen was everything to me. He was my world, and I became so engulfed in love that I lost myself. I placed all of my happiness onto him, and I became the person that I thought he wanted me to be. I stopped hanging out with the few friends that I had because I wanted every free moment to be spent with him. If I couldn’t see him over the weekend or after school on weekdays I would be devastated. He brought so much light into my world of darkness that all I could see or focus on was him, resulting in me forgetting about me. 

The sad truth is that Stephen never made me feel like he should be my reason for living. That was all me. I think I just got so sucked up into a world where I could finally trust someone. I finally had found someone who was authentic and sincere, and he genuinely cared about me and my well-being. I felt safe with Stephen, and I saw a forever life with him. He was mine. My life was just revolving around Stephen. 

My co-dependency started to become scary when I couldn’t recognize myself anymore. I became increasingly jealous and territorial. When I found out that he held another girl’s hand in band practice, and he didn’t have a choice, I made him delete her from social media. When I found out that another girl had a crush on him and told him and he kept it from me, I wrote an article and printed it on the front page of the school paper. I was ruthless. I was even disgusted with myself, but I was not going to let anyone or anything take Stephen away from me. I had too much to lose. 

Around a year after we started dating, Stephen had reached his limit with me and my behavior and attempted to break up with me. He expressed that he couldn’t handle my jealously anymore, and he didn’t like that my whole world revolved around him. Which, to be honest, is completely understandable. I had a big dose of reality when we had that discussion, and that fog that I was in for the past year finally cleared up. 

I had realized that I willingly gave up everything that I was for this relationship, even though I never had to. Stephen loved me for me, and he never asked me to give up on myself for us. I couldn’t believe that I did that to myself. I put myself this incredibly unhealthy situation, and I promised myself that I would never do that again.

I am truly lucky to have the partner that I have. He never makes me feel like I have to give up any part of myself in order to please him. And if I were to be honest, if he did have that kind of expectation from me that would be a deal-breaker. I am unwilling to change any part of who I am for anyone, even him.

There was a situation that happened not too long ago that was kind of the inspiration behind this piece. As you know, I have a thing for tattoos and piercings, and for a while, I was fixated on getting my septum pierced. I wanted it so badly, but Stephen does not like them and told me no. First of all, no one, not even my husband, is going to tell me “no” about something that I want to do to MYSELF. I will gladly hear and appreciate any opinion that you may have on any matter, but anything that I want to do for myself or to myself will ultimately be MY decision. I didn’t end up getting the piercing because the jewelry that I wanted was going to be way too expensive, but had it been more affordable I would have gotten it done. 

I have this viewpoint about my marriage that I am not sure a lot of people agree with. I am so overprotective about maintaining my individuality that I almost look at my marriage like a separate partnership. I love Stephen so incredibly much, and he means the world to me, but he is not my world. I will never allow myself to do what I did back when we first started dating. The moment I place all of my happiness and everything that I am into his hands is the moment that I will lose myself. So when I say that we are in a “separate partnership,” I simply mean that I want us to make decisions together and live our lives together, but I also want us to be our own people. If I want to travel on my own without him, then I am going to do it. If I want to hang out with my friends without him, then I am going to do it. If I want to do something to my body then I am going to do it. Even if he hates it. He is not my daddy, he is my husband. And I am his wife. Just because you are in a committed relationship doesn’t mean that you need to forget about yourself. 

Like I have said, I am deeply, deeply in love with Stephen. He is an amazing human being and I am lucky to have him as my husband. I respect the hell out of him, and we really are a great match. However, in order for me to live the life that I want to live, I can’t put him and his desires before my own. I am not living our life, I am living my life, and I am trying to make the best of it. Stephen just so happens to be an incredible part of it all.

Conquer the Fear

I have always had a funny relationship with dreams. Not the kind of dreams where your mind tells you stories while you slumber, but the kind of dreams that you wish you could make happen. The goals that run through your mind constantly. The kind of dreams that make you think “it would be so cool if this could happen for me.” I have had a couple of those dreams, the kind where I constantly say “I wish” to, and I always wondered if I would be brave enough to try to make my dreams become a reality.

I have spoken about this before, but for as long as I can remember, my biggest dream was to become a writer. I don’t even need to be an extremely successful writer, but a writer nonetheless. I wanted to share stories, life lessons, and informative pieces. I wanted to be able to write something that someone out there could relate to. I wanted my words to start a dialogue between strangers, bringing all of us together in some sort of way. I wanted to come up with fictional stories that could captivate an audience and have them asking for more. I have longed for my imagination to take me to a place in my career that I could be proud of, but there was one thing standing in my way. Fear. 

I take that back. Fear wasn’t the only thing keeping me from trying to accomplish my dream, but it definitely was the biggest factor. I always told myself that if I were to ever try to make something out of myself through my writing that I would put every ounce of energy into it. Everything that I have would be dedicated to this one massive dream of mine. However, the circumstances that I was in both financially and mentally would prevent me from being able to do that, that is, until recently. 

Finances have been a strain for Stephen and me for many years. It seemed like every time we were able to save money and feel like we were finally getting to a place of financial stability something would happen that would wash that sense of security straight away. “It’s just a part of life.” “Welcome to being an adult.” “No one ever said that growing up would be easy.” That is what people would tell me about the unfortunate cost of being alive. Also, let’s not forget the worst day of the year for people who rely on medications to live: January 1st. Being a type one diabetic is incredibly expensive, and January 1st is the day that your deductible resets. It always feels like a slap in the face when you have to worry about paying for an insurance premium, a deductible, and the medication that you need in order to keep breathing. A major thanks to my pancreas for adding that stressor to my life. Anyways, I had to work at jobs that I absolutely loathed in order to get by, much like the majority of our society. While I would work, I would fantasize about one day being able to write and have my words be read by the world, but by the time that I would come home from work I had little to no energy to put into my dream. It was a vicious cycle. Work. Dream. Fantasize. Go home. Crash. Repeat.

When it comes to my mentality, I always wanted to have the energy to just make my dream happen. I knew that in order for my writing to flourish I had to put in the work. I knew from the beginning that if you want something in this world that it won’t be handed to you, and if you want it bad enough one day it could be yours. But you have to work for it. I never wanted anything to just be handed to me, but I was too emotionally drained to be able to work towards my goal. As I said, I HATED all of my previous jobs, and they made me feel worthless. I felt like such a disappointment, and it sunk my self-worth to basically nothing. I was already dealing with depression and anxiety, so feeling down on myself for my career left me with nothing. And when you already lack any sort of energy, when you feel like you are sucked dry of everything that you are, you just go into survival mode. I was a walking zombie, just living life on autopilot. When you are in that mode, you just don’t have the extra energy to put into “extra” luxuries, such as accomplishing a dream. You’re just trying to stay alive. 

Eventually, finances started to become better, and with a ton of work, so did my emotional stability. I entered the unexplored territory in my life where I had an option to quit my paying job in order to try to make my dream come true. I never, ever imagined in my entire twenty-six years on this planet that I would ever have this opportunity as an option, and now that it could be a possibility it scared the hell out of me. I started second-guessing if I could actually afford to quit my job, I wondered if it was the responsible thing to do, and I worried that my husband might end up resenting me for not going into an actual job every day as he does. I had developed all of this doubt to the point where one day I would talk myself up and say “I am just going to do it.” Then the next day I would say “I can’t do this. What was I thinking?” I was driving my husband insane with my doubt and fear, and finally, he just told me to quit my job and focus on my writing. It was kind of a “now or never” type situation. It is odd to me that after spending years imagining, hoping, and fantasizing about this moment that suddenly I was pumping the breaks. I think it is one of those things that you never think is in the cards for you, and when you finally have an opportunity to make it happen it puts you in a state of shock. And then that state of shock turns into doubt, and then that doubt turns into fear. But after talking to my therapist and doing some major introspective work, I made the decision to quit my job to attempt to make my dream come true.

It was scary. It still is scary to this day. As it stands, I am two months into what could be a life-altering choice that I made. But with that being said, I don’t think that I have ever been happier about myself. So here is the thing. I am not oblivious or naive to the fact that there is a high probability that nothing will come from this. I know that I am asking for a lot from the universe to give me the success that I desire from my writing, but I just want it so bad. I live for my writing. I live for my audience. It brings me so much satisfaction whenever I push the “Publish now” button on my website. It warms my heart whenever someone messages me about a piece that I wrote. I am thriving. I feel alive. My spark is growing larger and larger with each day that passes. Yes, as per usual, the unknown is terrifying. I do not know where this is going to take me in my life. But do you know what sounds even more terrifying to me? Not knowing if my dream could have been a reality. Always pondering the idea if I made the right choice by not running towards my lifelong dream. I will never regret the choice I made to try to improve my life by chasing my dream, and I will continue to thrive on it until the moment I draw my final breath. 

Fear was one of the strongest internal opponents that I have ever had to face, but man does it feel amazing to conquer that monster.

Tattoos and Depression

I wouldn’t say that I have an addictive personality. I hardly ever drink, I don’t smoke, I take edibles, but not often, I don’t do hardcore drugs, I have sex, but just with my husband, and I guess you could say it is a “typical” amount of copulation for a couple who has been together for ten years, and I usually don’t overeat. I am not used to having that feeling of needing something so badly that it is all that you can think about, that is, until now.

I got my first tattoo when I was eighteen years old, and I regretted it immediately. It was a larger piece on the inner part of my left forearm, and when you are used to seeing a blank canvas to suddenly having something there that is permanent it can be a bit of a shock. I just remember waking up the next day in tears thinking “what have I done?” I promised myself that I would never get another tattoo for the remainder of my life, and I was going to try to save up enough money to get the one tattoo that I had removed. Then, six months later, I found myself in a tattoo shop getting another one.

Tattoo9

I love tattoos. I love piercings. I love the adrenaline rush that I get when I pull up to my favorite shop and see my favorite artists. I love the smell of the ink and the buzz of the tattoo gun. I love sitting in the chair and wondering what my next piece is going to be while I am getting something done. The music, the laughter, the swearing, the connections that you make with the person who is working on you, it all just makes my serotonin levels rise. I feel like I am in my own personal euphoria, and I soak up every moment of it. I don’t crave a lot of attention from others, but getting work done is such an intimate experience. You’re putting your trust into someone to alter the shell that holds you in it. They are changing not only your appearance but in a way, also your life. To me, that is beautiful.

Altogether, I have nine tattoos. I have gotten four tattoos in less than ten months, which is a lot for me. Two of those tattoos were done in the last twenty-four hours. I used to average one tattoo every year and a half to two years, so this is an interesting change of pace for me. I have been doing some thinking, and I think I have figured out why this flux of ink has been taking place. 

Although I am always thinking about tattoos, I tend to want them, even more, when I am either approaching or in a low. Interestingly enough, just a few days ago I had a therapy appointment with my therapist where we were talking about some newer feelings that were arising, and she expressed that she was worried that I was taking a step backward. I do feel like I am starting to revert to what my norm has been for all of these years, but I am desperately trying to nip it in the bud before it takes me down too much. Anyways, I think I have a correlation between my depression and my tattoos. You see, as stated in previous articles, my coping mechanism for a severe low or anxiety is cutting. I am proud to say that it has been a good stretch of time that I have gone without hurting myself, but that is where the tattoos come in.

Tattoo6

The moment the needle touches my skin I get giddy. Even when I am not in a great place mentally, I feel better. Whenever I would cut, it felt like a release. A break from feeling the way that I have felt for so long. I can breathe, and all my worries escape my mind, even if it’s just for a moment. Sometimes a moment break is better than no break at all. I have learned that tattoos give me that same relief, but it is even better. Instead of marking my body with scars, I am marking my body with images that bring me joy. There is only one tattoo that I feel “eh” about, but it will be an easy cover-up. 

Tattoo7

So here is my justification for my tattoos: They help me feel better. Mentally it is an escape, physically it helps me relax and my pieces have helped build my self-esteem. I would rather have my body marked with art rather than scars, so as long as I have the means to continue with my pieces, then you can expect to see me sitting in my favorite shop with my favorite artists.

Short Story 1

I sat there, alone, watching as these people are living their lives in complete oblivion. Do they not see or understand what this world is? They all seem so happy even though their lives seem so mundane and redundant. I am sitting on this bench judging them, but the truth is I envy them. If given the choice, I would do anything to live that mundane and redundant life, but as luck would have it, that is a choice that I do have. 

I don’t have an exact name as to what I am. I just know that every person in my family are descendants from this being that isn’t human. I have been raised to hate humans. To despise everything that they are. Humans strive for happiness even though they live in a world of hatred, sadness, and despair. I often wonder why they just don’t succumb to the negativity. I see these people in the darkest of times still looking for that light at the end of the tunnel as they are grasping onto every ounce of hope that they find. This world is a nasty world, filled to the brim of terrible intents and horrors of fates, and yet these people are still walking around with smiles on their faces like all is well in the world. I don’t know know what it feels like to smile, since I never have been able to have one. 

I hear people say that to survive in this life you just need to be strong. That you just need to put positivity out into the universe and that positivity will be reflected back on to you. That having hope and faith will bring you comfort in the worst of times. I can’t fathom what any of that feels like since I can’t feel any form of positivity or happiness. I feel sorrow, anger, and hatred. I swim in a pool of negative thoughts, hostility, and jealousy. Everything that I am embodies everything that humans try not to be, and I can’t help but contemplate who has it worse. 

Luckily the spot where I tend to people watch is near my home, so the walk back is quick. As I approach my front door I see that my entire family is home, even my great aunt, and I just sigh. Our family is large, so that means a lot of noise is going to be made this evening. I hate my family. I have a mom, a dad, three brothers and a great aunt who all reside at the home with me, which forces us to all to be around each other even when I am seeking solitude. 

“Hello daughter. Human watching again I am sure.”

“Yes dad.”

“What a waste of time. Humans are a pathetic waste of energy if you were to ask me.”

“What do you want me to say, brother? I can’t be locked up in this house like the rest of you.”

“Those people out there are just a bunch of liars. Their smiles and laughter are masks for the pain that they are truly feeling. At least we are honest about who we are.”

“Well mother, I frankly don’t really care what any of you have to say. Your opinions mean next to nothing to me, so do me a favor and keep your words where they belong. To yourself.”

As I walk away towards my room, I realize that the irony behind my brother telling me that humans are a waste of energy when they just wasted a bunch of mine is blinding.

“Great niece, is that you?”

My great aunt resides in a room that is adjacent to mine, so she always hears me as I approach my room.

“Hello great aunt. How are you.”

“Bleak.”

“Per usual.”

“How are you.”

“Well I feel as if I want to isolate and ponder the idea of death but my family will not allow me to do that.”

“Would you like to carry on with that?”

“It is fine great aunt. Is there something that you wanted to speak to me about?”

“Actually yes. Why have you been watching the humans so much lately?”

“I don’t know. I guess I don’t understand why they fight so hard for happiness when this world is so dull and terrible.”

“So you watch them? That is ridiculous. What will watching them do? Are you studying them?”

“I am just observing.”

“Interesting.”

“Okay can I go now?”

“Did you know that you once had a grandfather many generations ago that found his humanity?”

“Yes mother had mentioned that in passing before.”

“Yes, yes. This world is so shameful that he no longer wanted to be apart of it the way that he was.”

“The way that he was? What are you talking about?”

“Great niece, I want you to listen and listen well. We are indeed descendants from a being that formed numerous generations ago. But haven’t you ever wondered what that being was?”

“No.”

“I said to listen! No interruptions please!”

I was confused as to if I should reply to her or not, so I opted to just sit there.

“Anyways, legend has it that the descendant that we come from was human. This particular human was consumed with everything that we are. Every negative emotion ran through this human until they couldn’t take it anymore, so the human made the decision to end their own life. They took a knife and did what they did, thinking that it would all be over, however, their plan did not go the way they had anticipated. They woke up to all of those emotions, however, they were all amplified. There was not a single ounce of positive emotion in them, and their humanity had vanished.”

“Wow.”

“Yes. Now fast forward to your grandfather from many generations past. He was just like us, being unable to see any positivity, to only see the negative in everything. Now I don’t know what possessed him to do this, but he took a knife that was a family heirloom and stuck his finger with it. He claims that the moment that he stabbed the knife into his finger is when his life began. He still had some of the negative emotions, however, they weren’t as strong as they once were. He said that the wound was draining the negativity out of his body, and positive emotions started making their way in. He said the first time he ever felt joy was when he saw a dog run past him. The first time he felt love and admiration was when he started courting some human woman. The first time he felt trust was when he made his first friend through his work. The man was even smiling! He said that his life had completely changed and that he could feel his humanity, and that there was no greater feeling in the world. Now of course the family found that everything that he had said was complete and utter rubbish, and he eventually stopped communicating with our ancestors, but I have always found that tale to be intriguing.”

“Whatever happened to that knife, great aunt?”

“Why, it just so happens that it has been passed down to me. It is in my closet in some box somewhere.”

I couldn’t help but think about that story. The intensity of it all had my mind swirling. Is there really a chance that my humanity could be restored? Or is the whole thing just rubbish, like my great aunt had said? After searching my great aunt’s closet for what seemed like forever, I finally came across the knife. It was about eight inches long and was plated in gold. It looked simple, and yet you could tell that it yielded so much power. 

“Don’t fool around with that now!”

“Okay great aunt.”

I then took the knife into my room, set it on a side table that was next to my bed, and just thought about the information that my aunt just told me. 

The next morning I went back to my bench. There were many humans there with their standard smiles communicating with one another and laughing. Even their tiny offspring seemed to find joy in the little things, like the grass for instance. I sat there for hours, just wondering what that would feel like. That is when something came over me, and I just started walking back home.

“Back home from people watching yet again. When are you going to give it a break?”

I didn’t have the energy to have this conversation again.

I walked upstairs and walked straight to my room, ignoring my great aunt’s call. I picked up the knife, and just pricked my finger with its sharp tip. The moment the first drop of blood started spilling out of my body I just collapsed on the bed. Every negative feeling that has consumed me for my entire life felt as if they were slowly leaving me. I still felt them, but they were much more manageable. My sadness and anger no longer felt overwhelming, and I no longer felt hatred or despair. 

Once I gathered myself I decided to go back outside. As soon as I opened the door and felt the same air that I had always felt caress my face I felt a strange spark within me. I walked to my bench and just sat down. What was that knife? Did it actually do something to me or am I imagining it? Moments later a dog ran up to me and gave me a kiss on my hand, and that was when I experienced something I never thought I would be able to experience. A smile.

I have found balance in my emotions. I have found my humanity.

Changes

It has been a year and a half since I have been able to sit at my desk and open up my heart and soul to the world. A year and a half of pain, tears, laughs, and big decisions. Many moments of loneliness, worry, pain, love, and excitement have ticked away.  A lot has happened since I was able to write, and now I am ecstatic to finally be doing what I have been longing for so long. Here are some things that have changed within the past year and a half:

 

  1. My beautiful, loving, wonderful furbaby Lupin passed away in October 2018. There were about three times in the past year and a half where I thought that I was going to die, and this was one of them. Without going into too much detail, Lupin suffered from a urinary obstruction that landed him in the hospital for a while. The vet warned us that it could happen again, however, since he was so young he couldn’t tell us when it might happen again. Less than a week after his release another obstruction occurred, and that is when we decided to surgically widen his urethra to prevent this from ever happening again. Although the surgery was successful, Lupin was unable to cope with all of the trauma and sedatives and passed away about two weeks after the surgery. Lupins’ death took a part of me that I will never get back. Anyone who knows me knows that my animals are my world, and I literally felt a piece of my soul get ripped right out of me the moment Lupin drew his last breath. It was when this was all happening that I was almost involuntarily placed in the hospital for being suicidal. I was in such a bad place that I admitted to my endocrinologist (who also monitored my mental health) that I was having suicidal thoughts, and she wanted to send me to the hospital. I convinced her not to do that (which I regret) and she ended up calling my psychiatrist to see if he could see me right away. He also wanted me to go to the hospital, but I eventually talked him out of it by agreeing to different medications as well as seeing him weekly. 
  2. Stephen and I adopted a new cat. After Lupins’ death I needed to place my negative feelings somewhere where they could become positive. That is when Arya came along. Arya was a six month old kitten named Lindy when we first saw her, and I fell in love with her the moment my eyes landed on her. Arya is so petite and tiny, and yet so spunky and insane. She keeps me laughing from the moment I wake up in the morning until the moment I close my eyes at night, and my soul is so happy that she is my daughter. 
  3. Stephen and I made a huge decision back in February to move back home to Chicago. This decision actually came to us while we were visiting our family back at home, and it was definitely unexpected. We had been toying with the idea of moving back home for a while, but then on the last night of our visit I woke up to several missed calls and text messages from my friends that were watching our apartment and our cats that our apartment had caught fire. Also, to add more trauma to the situation, they couldn’t find my cat Gimli. I just remember crying and throwing up from the stress, and frantically trying to figure out how we could get down to Dallas last minute. Luckily my friend was able to get Arya, but the idea of Gimli being missing, as well as my friends being in danger from the fire, sent me over the edge. Stephen and I were set to fly home at eight that night, but unfortunately, it was too expensive to change our flight to an earlier time. That was one of the most agonizing days that I have ever experienced, but something good came out of it. One of my friends remembered that there was a small hut that was being remodeled near our apartment, so I called the apartment complex to see if they could go see if Gimli had sought out shelter there. After about forty-five minutes of waiting, I got a phone call saying that they had found Gimli in the hut and that he was safe and not hurt! Tears uncontrollably just streamed down my face for what seemed like a lifetime. Tears of sweet relief and bliss. Everyone was safe, no one was hurt, and Stephen and I were about to be reunited with our furfamily once more. It was when that fire happened that Stephen and I ultimately decided that where we were living was too tainted from all of the bad memories that had happened there, and that was when we had decided to move back home.
  4. Earlier this year I experienced another severe low. This low started in about April, and to be frank I am still coming out of it. As all of you know, my lows tend to be very scary. With that being said, this one has been quite a doozy. I think that the scariest thing about my depression is that my suicidal thoughts start to become more and more frequent. Usually, the thought of suicide alone scares me, but this time around the scariest part about my suicidal thoughts was the idea of actually doing it wasn’t scary to me anymore. I honestly can’t tell you how many times I have come close to actually doing something to myself within this past year and a half, and especially since April. Because of this, my cutting was starting to become an everyday thing, to the point where I would go out of my way to try to hide it from Stephen. Somehow Stephen would always find out what I had done, and because of my downward spiral, Stephen sat me down and said that if I didn’t try harder to get some help in Chicago then he would have to leave me. He couldn’t handle the stress of constantly wondering if he was going to come home from work and find me dead, and the fact that I was cutting myself so frequently made him even more upset. So I found a new psychiatrist, and I have been speaking to a therapist a couple times a week. I still have my really off days, but I do feel like I am finally getting better. 
  5. One of the reasons why I was diagnosed with PTSD this year was because of a sexual assault that I was a victim of before I met Stephen. I will get more into this at a later time, but looking back it has been something that always did trigger me. I suppose I never knew the extent of the damage that it had done to me until I started to talk about it more. For the past few months I have been really trying to heal from that past incident, and I hope that healing from that trauma will help with my future low episodes. 

 

So those are some changes that have been a part of my life for the past year and a half. If I have learned anything at all it would be that I need to allow myself time to heal from the past and not look down on myself if I have a setback. Words can not describe how free I feel right now, and I can feel my passion through the tips of my fingers.