CNM 015: Shannon Discusses Her Recovery from Codependency

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In this episode, I interview Shannon, recovering codependent who blogs about her experience at www.iwanttolivenotjustsurvive.blogspot.com. Shannon discusses recognizing her codependency more than a decade after it started, her keen ability to lean into discomfort, and why she says accurate self-evaluation is just as important as self-esteem.

Shannon’s Story

After the death of her five year old sibling, Shannon’s mother retreated into her grief. Her mother changed emotionally, taking on a more distant persona, and Shannon learned how to keenly evaluate her mothers’ emotional state at a young age. Shannon took on a role in which she carefully avoided upsetting her mother, and made sure the house was as peaceful as possible.

Shannon carried the same behavior into a marriage with an addict. She became a victim and a “servant” for ten years, and during the last year or two before her divorce, she finally began to take note of her codependency. After leaving the divorce, she was finally able to start doing the work to overcome it.

Shannon realized that her marriage was broken on a larger scale that not only involved her ex-husband’s addiction, but also her behavior. It took getting professional help before she realized there was a healthier way to act and began the healing process. At her therapist’s instruction, Shannon wrote down the “give and take” of each of her relationships to realize that out of twenty five “friends”, Shannon would show up for all of them, but only three would show up for her.

She says denial is the “go to” frame of mind for codependents; a self-inflating denial in which codependents believe they are nice and everyone else is the problem. In her experience, codependents often can’t own their issues until they’re in a place where they’re willing to let go of things that make them feel safe, like rescuing other people or keeping them happy. Codependent like that kind of power and control, and feel like they’re doing something valuable.

In addition to therapy, Shannon also read lots of books and re-evaluated lots of relationships. Through the divorce, she lost several friendships, and acknowledges that can be painful for a codependent. She learned to spend time alone and be okay with it.

Shannon prides herself on being able to be alert to when other people are not okay. She immediately feels the need to fix it for them. She can “feel those alarm bells go off”, pause and realize it’s not her job to fix and care-take. She says she doesn’t want to take away someone else’s abilities by fixing things for them. She describes that her trick is to quickly assess whether her urge is to do something that helps herself vs. truly helping another.

Recovery

Shannon’s recovery work involved “caring for her own persona spirit”; sitting with herself long enough to listen to what SHE ultimately needs, and then taking the steps to address those needs. There are a variety of ways to get help. Support meetings (CODA) and therapist can be great, but they are not all created equal. It may be a good idea to check out some resources in your area to see if they are right for you. Otherwise, Shannon recommends taking an inventory of what your current relationships actually look like right now;

If it were a dire emergency and you’ve listed all the people you consider to be important in your life, how many people would show up for you vs. how many people would you show up for. If it’s not close to a 1:1 ratio, you may need to start evaluating who you invest in.

Additionally, meditation and reflection are great, but do these things not because you believe they will heal you, but instead on the premise of not knowing what it will bring you, but being open to receiving it.

Shannon says that accurate self-evaluation is just as important as self-esteem. Yes her self-esteem has improved since she’s started taking care of herself, but the progress wouldn’t have been able to happen if she weren’t relentlessly honest with herself. She continues to “take her temperature” in her relationships to make sure she’s staying healthy. She doesn’t think she’ll ever be able to completely stop this. Shannon says prioritizing yourself first is the only way you can start to prioritize other people. Long-term recovery is about finding a rhythm of life that doesn’t leave you emotionally or spiritually burnt out.

Shannon’s Biggest Advice For Codependents

Learn that you are just as valuable as anyone else that you will come into contact with; your children, your parents, your partner, your boss, and the minute you begin living in that truth, you are one step closer to loving them more effectively.

In this episode we discuss:

  • A traumatic family experience that affected Shannon’s parents
  • Razor sharp ability to read other people
  • Recognizing her own codependency long after it started
  • Being able to lean into discomfort
  • Why accurate self assessment is just as important as self-esteem
  • Shannon’s experience with codependency recovery
  • Shannon’s biggest piece of advice for codependents

Items mentioned in this episode include:


1 Comment
  1. I just listened to the interview with Shannon. thank you and Shannon for the tips and information. This has been the most helpful info I’ve gotten yet.