Ending Codependency in Relationships: Find And Live Who You Really Are

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”  ~Oscar Wilde

I remember clearly and will never forget the golden moment when I revealed my truth. Out through the locked up, suppressed little voice hidden deep down within, I allowed myself to say, “I always feel as if I need to give people what they want.”

It was almost as if lighting struck and the clouds parted at the same time. I sat there comfortably in the chair of my therapist’s office, and with a deep breath I knew that “it” was over. I did not know what “it” was, or the amount of work and change that would follow, but I knew that I was ready and willing.

I grew up codependent. From the influence of an alcoholic, narcissistic father to the string of narcissistic relationships formed afterward, my identity evolved through who I was to others and what I had given to them.

A relationship with a narcissist defines your existence as not your own, but as a part of theirs. Others saw me as shy and nice, but I didn’t realize that I was lost and without balance.

I wanted others to be their authentic selves, truthful and free, but I could not do that for myself, so I continued giving up and giving in. Not all was bad—life is beautiful in each form—but I knew I would need to learn something different, as I always struggled with fear and anxiety.

So I have learned something different. It’s taken a long time, but things have been getting better. If you’ve also realized that you are codependent, these ideas may help you dig down and reveal your true, authentic, beautiful self.

Create a relationship with yourself.

Remember the scene in Runaway Bride where Julia Robert’s character decides she will choose what kind of eggs she likes instead of choosing the kinds that her former partners liked? This simple act is where it can all begin. I make an effort to just ask myself honestly, “How are you doing?”

Take time to focus on your preferences, likes, dislikes, and so on, learning more about the things that make you happy and unhappy, and healthy ways to deal and cope with the latter. It’s important to always stay centered.

Establish boundaries.

Being intuitive, I have the ability to feel what others really want. And it’s been hard to say no. One of the most important things in learning to stop people pleasing is to establish personal boundaries. Basic ideas of personal boundaries include when to say no and where to draw the red line.

An example of this would be refusing to let someone convince you to do something you don’t want to do, even if that person tries to manipulate you with negative comments. We can’t change what other people do, but we can change our responses. Enforcing boundaries like this will improve our relationships.

Listen to and trust your own feelings and intuition.

Growing up I learned to frequently feel guilt and shame. I learned to say sorry and explain myself even when I felt that I did not have to. Coming out of that restricted world, I began to take ownership of my own feelings.

Observe what you are feeling and thinking, and remind yourself that you are allowed to have opinions and judgments.

Honor your own needs and intentions.

Growing up I made decisions based on what other people wanted, not for the betterment of myself. I would feel a sense of fear before I would utter a word.

In order to bring awareness to what I was feeling, I began questioning the intention behind my words and actions. This allowed me to understand my own ideas and motives instead of letting other people define them for me. It helps develop a sense of confidence and self-respect, making it easier to communicate our needs to other people.

Create a positive space.

Feeling responsible for others’ actions, thoughts, and reactions would leave me drained and confused. When I began realizing the difference between owning others’ problems and giving them support, I started creating my own positive space. This has a lot to do with boundaries, where someone else ends and where you begin.

I realized I don’t need to take responsibility for other people. If someone hasn’t called me back after three tries of calling them, it’s not my fault or responsibility to get them to call me. If there is a pause in conversation, it’s not my job to fill it.

It is possible to accept the way others are and arrange the pieces that are given, not try to make up for them.

Commit to lifting your self-esteem and confidence.

Bill Murray once said, “The more you know who you are and what you want, the less you let things upset you.” No truer words have been spoken.

I spent a year falling over my own feet and making mistakes. I spent the next year learning and discovering from them. I spent the third dedicated to a practice of loving myself, and now I will spend this year in a state of acceptance, to be aware and solidify that loving-kindness inside.

And you know what? It feels good. Thank you, Bill Murray.

In the end, we are responsible for ourselves and our own happiness. What we create in ourselves we can later skillfully give to others. In this dynamic and vibrant world, loving ourselves not only makes us stronger, but also the people around us.

Photo by Anant Rohanker

About Anna Puchalski

Anna is the creator of Echo's Corner: Going Beyond Narcissism, a blog that serves as a community for people who desire to heal from, learn or write about the effects of narcissism in their personal lives or society. She enjoys spending her time in nature from engaging in outdoor sports to various forms of recreation and works in the landscaping field.

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  • lv2terp

    WONDERFUL post! Thank you so much for these wise and wonderful tips! This is something I have been working on changing for the past cpl yrs, and I seem in line with your time line as well. ha…I am looking forward to this 3rd yr, and then 4th! 🙂 Thank you for sharing your story, experience and wisdom! 🙂

  • Excellent article Anna! I can relate to everything you wrote about to a T. Besides codependent relationships, I coped with my unfulfilled needs via self-destructive behavior. It was not easy to find self-love, but I did it because I was committed to healing.

  • rebecca


  • Amna

    Brilliant post! Every word is true 🙂 I’m establishing boundaries, accepting myself, making no apologies for who I am and most importantly, being gentle with myself. It’s hard but worth it.

  • Lyra

    I’m glad I found this article today. That was me. I am seeing a therapist to try to cope with depression and anxiety and I feel like this highlights a lot of discoveries I’ve made about myself. I had a narcissistic mother, with a spending problem rather than alcoholism. She’d buy more stuff to make her feel better about all her debt and then blame it on us for letting her spend so much, etc. My whole life everything was based on what she wanted and then when I moved out and went to college, my relationships varied on the same tune. Every motivation was to make someone else happy and when I did things for me I always ended up shaming myself, feeling guilty, depressed, etc. It’s like I punished myself for doing what I wanted. I am now in a healthy relationship, with someone who understands my needs and who has helped me really find myself. It never ends though. I still have to fight the urges to shame and guilt myself and I still have trouble setting boundaries, but I feel like I’ve found my path and now I just have to stay on it. 🙂

  • Anna Puchalski

    Boundaries are huge! It was the last lesson I learned, yet the most important. Much luck to you Amna, the kindness that you show to yourself will be repaid!

  • Anna Puchalski

    Here here! It’s so amazing that after being trapped in someone else’s world one has the power to break through and blossom into their own, no matter when it happens or how long it takes. Keep practicing what you know Lyra, it seems as though you are on a good path!

  • Anna Puchalski

    Paralleled journeys. I love when that happens! And thank you for reading, best wishes on evolving your own wisdom!

  • Anna Puchalski

    The willingness to change is the main ingredient in healing and changing, I believe, and self-love an excellent method. Thank you and may that light inside grow and grow for you Andrea!

  • Emma Block (Gallucci)

    Very insightful, Anna. I felt like I was reading about myself. I completely relate. Oh, and kinda crazy, I’ve been following this blog for months and you couldn’t believe my surprise when I saw a familiar name. You may not remember me but we worked at V3 together over the summer several years ago. Ahem, I was the shy one… Small world. Hope you’re doing well!

  • hi Anna – thank you for sharing your story and this post. The part that resonates me with most and what I’ve been doing more of in my life is saying ‘no’ more and setting more boundaries in my life. The more “no”s we say to others, the more yes, we say to ourselves. Saying no has brouhgt unlimited joy to my life in a strange way. I no longer do things for others or to make others happy. I ask if it will make me happy first. If I’m happy, everyone around me will see a happier me : ) and will have that happiness rub off on them as well.

    Your journey and insights are inspiring.

  • Anna Puchalski

    Hi Emma! I in fact remember being assigned to cattail head cutting duty together at the one big detention basin in the southern burbs and having fun getting lost in the marshes. Indeed small world. 🙂 I’m glad that you enjoyed the post and I hope the very best for you! I also see your last name has changed, congratulations!

  • Anna Puchalski

    I like the way you put that, Vishnu. “The more no’s we say to others, the more yes’s we can say to ourselves.” Interesting. And in turn we create a happy balance. Warm wishes towards your journey also!

  • Marilyn

    Thanks for this! It took me leaving a very long marriage and actually being alone for the last couple of years to realize how much I did all of these things in my relationship. At first, I was mad that I was alone after putting so much of my life into something and then having to leave it. But after being alone for the last 2 years, I realize that I HAD to, and am happier, and more true to myself than I had been the whole time I was in the relationship. Aha moments are the best. Shout out to a fellow nature lovin’ Chi-towner 🙂

  • Prabha

    I love the sentence “difference between owning others’ problems and giving them support.” It took me a long time to figure out the difference, but when I did , it truly set me free from constant worry! Great article!Thank You !

  • Free2decide

    Wow. I can relate very deeply with this post, as my circumstances were similar growing up. It takes a great deal of courage to break away from these patterns of behavior, especially if they spawn from our family environment. I had my own liberating journey as well, which was a different story from yours, but had the same impact–fostering self-love, self-awareness and the courage to put myself first. It’s always refreshing, interesting and beautiful to me that complete strangers, from different cultures with separate lives and journeys can share similar lessons and life changing breakthroughs. And yes, it is a constant effort in the journey that doesn’t simply end once the breakthroughs are made. Happy journeying and thanks for the post

  • Anna Puchalski

    Sometimes I wish we did have that crystal ball telling us everything will be alright in the future when we are going through the hard times, yet it would not be as fulfilling. The work and happiness is ours! Good to hear that you are in a happy place, Marilyn. Here’s to a gorgeous spring and summer after this wacky winter!

  • Anna Puchalski

    Yes! It really makes this lighter. You are welcome Prahba, here’s to a continued free and light perspective!

  • Anna Puchalski

    That liberation is incredibly powerful! I once hear the line “People are people are people” and it resonated with me so much. Truly liberates one from the thoughts that we are alone. Happy to read that your journey has taken you to happiness, may it be filled with joy to come!

  • Being authentic to yourself. Love and accept the person you are in and out and the love of other people will just follow 🙂

    Thanks for posting this!

  • Anna Puchalski

    It is truly the best formula. You are welcome and best wishes for you!

  • Ruth Snow

    Enlightening and gives hope to all of us. May all beings be happy and free of distress xx

  • Kiki

    I loved this article! I am definitely taking these suggestions to heart and thank you for writing such a fantastic article on self-esteem. It was helpful to see those words in print. (Also, “Lost in Translation”–great movie!)

  • Anna Puchalski

    Thank you and best to you also Ruth!

  • Anna Puchalski

    It great to know that we are not alone in our journey and can find inspiration everywhere, may it also find you Kiki. And yes, what a gem of a film!

  • Ruth Snow

    Namaste _()_

  • Kelsey

    What an amazing article, and so well written! You have a great talent and way of communicating your ideas. I really need to snap out of my all-consuming, people-pleasing mind frame sometimes to remember that I’m a person, not just a shell or a mask that should constantly do what I think others desire for me to do. I’m working on this whole self-love thing. It’s a hard and slow process but I am really trying to get there. Thank you so much.

  • Anna Puchalski

    Thank you for your kind words Kelsey! Knowledge is power and is also the first and very important step. This awareness and self-love can really build confidence in the practice. Best of luck!

  • Dominique

    Thank you for this amazing article. It hit so many points perfectly and fit me almost to a T. Seeing that I’m not alone and also your description of it all was so helpful and encouraging. Reading this made it easier to make sense of it all (all the things currently going on in my relationship/life). I’ve read a few things and this article is def the best. Thank you!!!

  • Anna Puchalski

    Dominique, thank you for your dear comment, glad to have helped! There are plenty of us out there and what a joy it is to begin to share, learn, and grow!

  • Todd Lohenry

    To this I would add study and practice self-compassion…

  • Tales G. Magno

    Amazing, is some steps ahead of me right now, but i am in this frequency. I can totally relate to this kind of behavior and know the facts helps to understand what is there to be changed. Your post reinforced my current belief and dedication to be more of my self, so, great! And thank you!

  • Aoife Florence McDonnell

    I’m young, just turned 19, and having finally been convinced by my boyfriend that I have codependency issues. I want to get better so badly to make my life fuller and fix my relationships, and this article was a great wake up call and beginning of my search for help.

  • Anna Puchalski

    You are welcome Tales! Looking back on when I even wrote this article, the same ideas ring true but we get deeper in them, there is so much to learn and experience through growth and hope. Best to you!

  • Anna Puchalski

    The hardest part is getting started yet so many things make sense there after. It is truly an incredible journey, full of ups and downs, that many do even take have a chance to take. It takes courgae, Aoife, god for you!

  • ellen

    Anna, this is such an inspiring article. Thanks for sharing your perspective and life. I’ve been up and down since being dumped after trying my best in a 9-year long relationship. I’ve read and practiced everything under the moon in the past 5 months trying to move on in a healthy way and learn as much as possible so that I can try and love myself more, and in turn love others the way that I want to love them. Your words made everything much clearer. Much appreciated. <3

  • Maile

    Lyra, When I read that you had found someone who understands your needs and helped you find yourself, I started to cry. This is the first I’ve heard of such thing… I’ve been overwhelmed with others’ stories about how they never could find someone who could support them and help them cope with their lessons. You’ve given me hope… that I too can find someone who will be on my team. Thank you!

  • Anna Puchalski

    Understanding a new perspective, and creation of that new perspective through much practice is a much helpful tool to better things. I totally get it on loving yourself first, one truly carries that with them forever. Hope this time of healing brings you on a great path, thank you and best to you Ellen!

  • M

    I am very glad I found this article.. I am going through this as we speak. I find it hard to be alone and feel like I cannot break free from the codependent thinking. I am always thinking and trying to help, fix or be there for others. However, they always just leave me high and dry. I basically have no family or support system, they do not want to help me in this regard at all. I find myself self-destructing and alone in my thoughts. This article gives me a glimmer of hope, i dont however know how to like or love me. I feel stuck.

  • Anna Puchalski

    Hi M, sorry to hear that you are going through it, I have been there before. The truth is, the codependent condition is something that we can work on and with much practice, learning, and awareness things become much better with a little patience and time. I have myself experienced success, even from the time this article was published. After all, this is our life, and it is all we have! Much blessing to you on your journey!

  • Ebs

    I’m recovering from codpendency too and sometimes it’s just so hard! Or maybe i get frustrated and wonder if/when i’ll ever really feel healthy and at peace and with healthy, good relationships in my life. I still isolate quite a lot to cope but I have made a lot of gains and notice healthy, subtle changes in my behaviour.I sometimes wish i knew that good times were coming. I guess they are if i’m learning to be healthier – they have to!

  • Anna Puchalski

    Hi Ebs! I agree, it is very hard- but also very worth it. I myself also going through a time of withdrawal. It was comforting and that time is needed for one self, especially in the codependent’s case when we are learning to listen, give, and care for ourselves. Focusing the on positives and gains is a great way to go!

  • Abe7

    I looked for this article today to help a friend who I identified as codependent. Reading through this and other articles I realise I am also. I had suspected this. I surround myself with people who are too. I have fallen prey to a number of narcissists and the like. And I have just re-established a relationship with my partner. I am hesitant about this and need to be sure that this will be different. We both seemed to have thrived in our time apart. This makes me feel awful because he left when I brought up some issues. It felt like his decision to get his life together after this, to do things he wanted, accused me of having prevented them. He did the things for himself I would happily have seen him do while we were together. (Except the tattoo, yuck!)
    I understand now that it is not really an indication that I was controlling but that he is super-sensitive to any indication of what someone else wants. It was about his need to please. I am having this same difficulty with my current housemate. His new girlfriend is a whole other post!
    I know in general what I need to do and what attitudes and such have created my badly constructed relationships. So I need to set boundaries. But what are the boundaries? I have never seen a healthy relationship. I don’t know what’s normal.: (

  • hj

    Hi there,
    Finding this post has come about during some serious soul searching and life realizations as of lately, but it almost feels reminiscent right now of the phrase “ignorance is bliss.” I am so in love with every ounce of my partner and have been enjoying a very fun, vibrant, life-changing relationship for the past 10 months. She has recently been experiencing some reoccurring mental health challenges of her own, to which my response has been an outpour and bombardment of support, contact, reminders of my love, etc etc. I have exhibited this same characteristic in the past, and have come to recognize it basically at sabotaging my relationships by hyper-focusing on the other person.

    Only this time around has it ever been pointed out to me by my partner as something I need to work on. Thus given my nerdy ways and reassurance in finding “proof” such as this to what is going on inside me, my research began, and now I’m here- completely identifying as a co-dependent person, and completely, completely wanting to transcend this barrier. While a part of me feels encouraged by the fact that there is a coined ‘term’ to the characteristics i’m displaying, I also feel paralyzed as how to move forward. I don’t want to be codependent in general, and I do not want to mess up the best love I’ve been exposed to in my life….but I thought I was being myself. I thought that making others happy truly did make myself happy. I thought I was self-confident with my choices, physical looks, and career decisions. I felt like the “compromises” or “sacrifices” I contributed to were things I genuinely felt okay to meet in the middle on, and not disregarding of my needs.

    My relationship has been pretty amazing thus far, but with this trigger as of late, I’ve become consumed with the thought that I am co-dependent, and could be doing things differently. But what? I thought I was respecting myself…until I started hyper concentrating on her….but why? I care and love her, but can’t seem to come up with an alternative. What tangible steps, mental mantras, or other words of advice does the internet world have for me? Research on the term identifies me, my feelings, my current highlighted mental state, and I don’t want to be co-dependent. Lol…is me posting this ask for thoughts and help being co-dependent as well?

  • Anna Puchalski

    Hi HJ. I remember thinking one of the reasons that I will begin this journey is to strengthen my relationships with others since we build the foundation of strength within ourselves. The practice continues to this day, exploring all the different facets, and with so much more to gain it is an exciting journey. Always show compassion towards your thoughts and questions throughout. Be gentle. Best of luck to you and here is to continued wisdom!

  • Anna Puchalski

    Hi Abe. Thanks for the comment, there are plenty of people who go trough the same thing, at all different stages of their journey. We are just as worthy of connection and love as anyone else. And we create what love is by strarting to give it to ourselves. I would reccomend finding different sources online or other print on codependency and boundaries. My next article I am working on is about boundaries since they are so important. Take care!

  • vic

    I love this post so much I have written parts of it out to keep with me on “my journey to living an authentic life”. Thank you! I have only just recently “woken up” to the fact that I have lived my whole life making it my mission to keep other people happy (mostly boyfriends, but family too) and that I have not enjoyed being me – but there is so much to enjoy! Also if I enjoy being me then I enjoy others around me much more too, and vice versa. I found particularly helpful the part above about making mistakes and learning from them. I was so worried about “getting it right” I was using it as an excuse to stay stuck. After all, who would be good at something (being myself) if they had not done much practice?! I am now experiencing the most wonderful love affair with myself – which is healthy and sustainable. My benchmark question now: “If I have already filled myself up with as much love as I need, then how would I respond to this person’s request?” It works! Thanks for letting me post x

  • Jenny

    I also have been tripping over my feet for a year, but am getting there. Ending co dependency and finding yourself and standing on your own is exhilarating but scary. I just wish I knew what I know now 15 years ago…can thing of 3 relationships that wouldn’t get past the second date and ended up being a marriage with one and a engagement with another. Lessons learned!

  • Anna Puchalski

    Relationships are definitely one aspect of life that changed for me dramatically after my big a-ha moment. I read today actually… relationships are when we take our recovery show on the road. Glad to hear you are gaining strength through the process, Jenny!

  • Anna Puchalski

    Thank you for sharing your nice words Vic! It is really nice and comforting to know that so much empowerment can come from the inside and not trying to control the outside. And who knew so much growth can come from self love and compassion and not beating oneself up for unreachable expectations, like being “perfect”. It is an illusion. But still when you reach for the stars, you get your feet of the ground- all we can do is try and love through the process. It seems as if you are enjoying yourself, best to you in the future!

  • Turning Leaf

    First off, I have found so many constructive thoughts through the Tiny Buddha website. Wow! It’s been difficult to explain my feelings to others and you were able to encompass so much of what I feel in many aspects of this article. I’ve searched for all types of reasonings as to why I’ve had difficulty in most situations and have come upon codependency as an option but no other article or explanation has as clearly and constructively touched me. I thank you for sharing. It IS a journey and takes time. My “it” has appeared 🙂

  • willm999

    My wife left me without a word and I came home to note and almost empty house. I went from what I thought was happily married to alone in 1 day. After about three weeks of no sleep I talked to a counselor (our marriage counselor actually) and he mentioned that I was codependent and I was always trying to fix our relationship. I really didn’t understand what he meant by codependent so I had to Google the subject and came upon your blog/site. It really helped define for me what being codependent is and what I was doing. I will be working on this for some time but it feels like i am finally pointed in the right direction.

  • Anna Puchalski

    Hi Will. So sorry to hear about your loss and grief. It must be hard to go through it. Time will heal some wounds and glad to hear that this article has helped you. From my experience relationships post working on codependency are truly different and much healthier than before. Here is too healing and moving forward!

  • Anna Puchalski

    Hi there Turning Leaf, so happy to hear that you have found your “it”! 🙂 Working towards ending codependency is a challenge but a it is a possible one. Enjoy the love that you will bring to yourself!

  • Carol

    Thanks so much for your article. I am the beginning of the journey and I look forward to the day when I give myself the love I’ve spent my life giving to others. I look forward to changing my life and career without fearing failure and appreciating all the lessons life has taught me.

  • Anna Puchalski

    Hi Carol. Thank you and good for you! The more love we give ourselves the more we know what it feels like and looks are and are able to give and receive in return. Best of luck!

  • Casey

    Dear Anna,

    I’ve done a ton of work through all matter of counseling, experiential, making huge changes, etc in my life. and yet still struggle terribly with the codependency within me, at times engulfing me and directing my every action, thought and deed.

    Today after an extremely long 6 day work week, traveling to 4 different towns through massive thunder and lightning storms and trying to appear professional at all turns anyways, I was in need of something. I did not know exactly what the something was, but I needed it, so I let my thoughts drift and the film “Runaway Bride” sprang to the forefront of my brain. I queued it up on Netflix and went to the computer to look at co-dependency self help threads or guides and voila”, here was yours.

    Imagine my amazement when I came to the portion where you speak directly in reference to that exact scene that I have long used as an example of reclamation in Runaway Bride!

    Thanks Anna, good stuff, well written and hopefully resetting to me as I pull my train cars back up off the trestle and back on the tracks.


  • Anna Puchalski

    Hi Casey! So glad the article was helpful. Even after some time I still go back and reread through the items myself since part of moving forward is practicing and reminding ourselves to love ourselves. And yes, I saw that movie awhile ago but I never forgot that scene. Makes so much sense now with the different perspective! Best of luck to you and keep chugging along! :o)

  • Infinite Seeker

    After yet another argument with my husband, I was looking for something to help me. My codependency has been a true challenge. I am constantly trying to please my husband by telling him what I believe he wants to hear and when I do that I lie, I hide. It is so painful for him and my son. I know that I am a codependent and that my actions are done because of the issues I have – self esteem, no boundaries, letting my husband do all the emotional work. I do the same thing over and over. I don’t know what to do this anymore. Unfortunately, I am too scared to take the first step, to just let myself fall in and trust. My husband is such a blessing for me. He understands my fears and he helps me, even when helping me means not getting help for himself.
    I feel so lost. I wish I could find myself.

  • Anna Puchalski

    Hi there Infinite Seeker. You are not alone in your struggle, these are all similar obstacless we all face in the beginning as codependents. As with any addiction the first step is to admit the truth to ourselves and begin the process of asking questions, building awareness, and taking one step at a time to solve our problems. I would focus on one thing a day, for example I tried not to agree with someone’s personal preferences such as music tastes one day. I would let it be and not feel the need to adapt. Sounds like you have a great support system also, best of luck to you and enjoy the journey, it truly is a spectacular one!

  • Buddha Bob

    This advice never gets old. Codependency always manages to sneak back into my life just when I think I’m free. My signal that I’ve slipped is when I’m stressed and anxious. When I come around to recognizing this, which often takes a long time, I find that it is because I’ve taken on the burden of others. I convince myself that I’m responsible for fixing everyone and everything.

    This weighs heavy on my shoulders and I carry it with me always. There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground in my mind. It is either, accept all this unecessary responsibility or run away. And to think all of this was set in motion before I hit the age of 10.

  • Anna Puchalski

    Our boundaries as codepedents are very malleable, especially since a lot of us were brought up in an environment or have a background where we could not learn how to respect and love ourselves. So, we sought it out in others way: approval, helping, solving problems-everyones but our own. The path is full of peaks and valley but with knowledge and practice it becomes much easier and manageable. Best of luck to you Bob!

  • sam

    I’m co-dependant. I lived a sheltered life. I went right from mom to my husband. We have been together for 12 years. I love our family, but i’ve lost myself in the mix. Reading this has helped me in trying harder to take the steps I need to take in rediscovering myself.

  • Anna Puchalski

    That is great to hear, Sam! There is great freedom in finding your true self and trusting yourself that you are giving skillfully and doing the good and right thing without compromising your values, beliefs, overall authenticity. Best of luck!

  • Chesala Charroux

    I find myself in a relationship with a very self centered narcissistic man. Everything must revolve around him. Even when it come to our love making its only when he wants it and if i inciate i get rejected. This man was an addict( on that synthetic marijuana) i stayed through it but there was a lot of trust lost. He watches porn and pleasures himself to other women and when i complain im overreacting. So all we do is fight. Now he is pushing me away sexually and says ita my fault for all the fighting. Telling me he is loosing intrest in me. I have let go of all thebpast and tried to start anew and yet i still feel like im being punished. My question is how do i find me? How do i not care so much about what he is doing or atleast keep my emotions in check to where we dont fight and then its all my fault? Im lost and hurt and i dont know how to not care so much. I should also add i have never loved anyone the way i love him. Im not ready to give up, but trying to change him is never going to work. I want to chqnge me. Help me please. Im desperate and alone.

  • jen

    Anna, I love these tips. Thank you for posting. It’s nice to feel some positive support.

  • Laura

    watch LOUISE HAY AFFIRMATIONS on youtube to learn to love yourself first, meditate with ESTHER HICKS WELL BEING MEDITATION and listen to WAYNE DYRE in youtube, it will change your life

  • mark

    Hi everyone. I wanted to share a part of my story with you.
    I was in a marriage for over 20yrs. I thought everything was going ok until the day came that my ex told me she wanted to separate. I felt lost and empty inside. I met a girl and we clicked on every level. I thought wow she really wants me and I want her, things were very intense. Then one day I started getting anxious about going to hers. Inside I felt ill like something was wrong
    I ever tried therapy. But I couldn’t work things out. I did everything for her to try and make her life complet. We never argued. She would say things and I would find Myself reacting to these things not even knowing why. We ended up engaged. I separated from her and after three months went back apologising for my behaviour. 10 Months later and I feel emotionally drained and running on Empty.
    I’ve seen a specialist who is qualified in addiction and drug. He has given me the tools now to guide myself to healing. I know I have a rocky road ahead but I also know that I can’t carry this burden any longer.
    I sat in my van the other day and asked yself how I felt and I just cried, because the truth is I don’t know how I feel
    .I’ve spent a lifetime concerning myself With others and never considered me.
    Healing myself has to come first now, I will find myself on the way. Xx

  • De de

    This is exactly the same situation I am in. This could have been my post, other than its real marijuana with my husband. So how are you coping? I find myself very angry all the time with him. He is always lying and I just can’t seem to move past the past. There is always broken promises and I lost all my trust in him. I know I have to find my own happiness…..I just wish he would grow up.

  • De de

    I too have codependent traits. I have to begin a new journey and find happiness within myself. I loved this article and has helped me to begin. My husband is a marijuana addict, some may say it not addictive but he is psychologically addicted to it. It has created a mess of our relationship of 21 years. I love him dearly but hate what he does and the lies and broken promises too. I need to find my own happiness and not care what he does. Even though I wish he would stop. I am very anxious and angry all the time at him. I wasn’t that person when we first met. I just thought he would grow out of it. But instead I grew different, not for the better. Why does it bother me so much? When I know he is lying and covering Up things to all seem good. I need to take care of myself and not worry what he is doing. It doesn’t seem to matter to him. It’s not big deal to him. But my emotions have just got to the end. He loves that stuff more than me. So I need to love myself more. Thanks for listening.

  • Nicole

    What a wonderful post! I’m working through this process right now and your article was incredibly helpful. I know this comes a bit late, but are there any books on this subject that were helpful to you?

  • Anna Puchalski

    I would recommend books by Melody Beattie- she specifically writes aboutco-dependency being a recovering one herself. Also books by Brene Brown- she is a faboulous author and also be sure to check out her TED talks also!

  • Nicole

    Great! Thank you so much!

  • Savannah

    Thank you always posting your articles, Anna! I love reading them and they give me such insight and inspiration. I suffer the same as many. I grew up with a narcissistic mother with drug and gambling problems. She always made ever about her, what she wanted, and if we couldn’t give it to her, we would be verbally abused. She would make us feel so guilty and she still does it to this day. This has carried over into my current relationship. Of course, I picked a partner who also has drug problems, although I didn’t know it at the time of starting the relationship. He is physically and verbally abusive, and still all I want to do is give him what he wants and feel horrible for wanting anything for myself. I am going to see a therapist to learn how to overcome the anxiety of being alone and codependent behaviors. Thank you for this post, it truly helps.

  • Mary

    Hi Anna- It has been a long time since this article was posted by you, but I wanted to let you know how profound it was for me to read it today. I am struggling with codependency and have a hard time putting it into words. When I read this it was like you had plucked the thoughts from my head and articulated it so well! Thanks so much for writing this. I needed to read it today 🙂

  • Angellina Hall

    I can see so many similarities. I loved a narcissist not knowing what he really was..he showed me so much in the beginning but as time past something within me changed. I felt like I was watching a movie with me as the star character. The daily drama and it was always my fault, he said I was crazy but it was always him. I’m finding my way…. I don’t know who I am and I don’t even like myself. I’m seeing a therapist so I can live my life instead of everyone else’s.

  • Malcolm Strachan

    Thank you very much for posting this Its been very informative and motivated me to start my recovery journey on finding myself
    Life has led me to move around alot and never having a place of belonging but now I feel I am settled and have found an amazing lady in my life who has BPD which is a struggle but worth it as she is my world. She has made me realise so many things about myself when I have been in denial my whole life and not even realizing.

    The start of my interest in this topic, leading me to this page is the fact that I need to be more assertive and I need more self worth in order for her to cope better mentally and along the way learning so much about myself and I’m excited yet nervous about how this journey will evolve.

    But after reading these amazing stories and support within this page I’m sure it will be worth it and I’m looking forward to loving myself again and being the real me who I haven’t known for many years since I lost my family.

    Thank you and good luck to everyone and good luck to me too

  • Anna Puchalski

    Hi Malcolm, you are very welcome. Glad that your journey is leading you to new horizons and a better and stronger direction. The sense of belonging is always an issue for codependents since we struggle with having an identity of our own. And with that come self worth and knowing that we are enough just as we are. Hope you enjoy your new journey!

  • Anna Puchalski

    Thank goodness for Disqus, I still can keep in touch with the comments! Thank you Mary, glad it was succinct and helpful. Sometimes reading others words from their experiences helps connect us with our own, I know it has also helped me. Good luck to you!

  • Anna Puchalski

    Good for you Savannah! It is a great idea to reach out to a specialist that can offer good perspectives, solutions, and insights into these conditions that we are sometimes unaware of because of our closeness to these situations. I hope you can find the way back to yourself, good luck!

  • Anna Puchalski

    HI De de, I hope that your journey has led you to some solutions and insights in how to deal with the situation that you are in. We can never go wrong finding self love for ourselves, it strengthens the relationships around us and just allows us to live a happier and lighter life. Good luck to you.

  • Anna Puchalski

    Thank you and you are welcome Jen!

  • Anna Puchalski

    Hi Mark, sorry to hear about your story. It is hard to be in a situation like that for so long although, it is never too late to find yourself back to yourself. One can never fully be with someone unless they are full themselves. Back in my day before I started treating codependency I had a lot of friends but was unable to connect and felt really lonely no matter what I tried. I hope your journey is leading you to some peace. Good luck!

  • Eve

    There are so many of us suffering. I’m married to a compulsive gambler. – almost 20 years now. first year was awful, the following three he struggled with recovery, the following 10 years he was gambling free. I did nothing to help myself or understand my own emotions during these years. So although he did his bit, I was remote and detached – I didn’t trust him. Then he went back gambling. I was devastated. Still didn’t do anything for myself except fuss about his recovery. The following 4 years I don’t think he gambled. The past two years have been horrific. Not only because he’s back gambling,but because I’ve done some therapy, realise the extent of my co-dependency, and seem to be unable to detach and to look after myself. I’m constantly blaming myself-If i’d gotten help earlier he may not have had that relapse (but he may…I know that.). Very few people know what I’m dealing with. I did seriously try to separate 2 years ago, at which stage he got some professional help, and I just took the easier option of staying in the relationship. I now think that he won’t face up to how miserable he is with me, he gambles for respite. Why do I feel responsible for him – how do I get the courage to leave. We have two teenagers – I’m sure eventually they’d come to terms with it, but I’m using them as a reason not to leave. In addition, financially, we actually can’t afford to run 2 houses. God, I’m emotionally exhausted. Can you offer anything to sooth my weary heart and soul?

  • Diane

    Marilyn, Thankyou for your post,I too am coming out of a very, very long marriage. Had to leave the second time, just to breath. Moved 5 times in one year and now have my own space. You give me hope that I can and will define my life for me. giving myself lots of Grace.

  • kelly

    Great post! I grew up with an alcoholic mum and then started a relationship with a drug addict who I had 3 children to and we’re together for 8years. I finally broke free from the relationship 2 and a half years ago and am a changed woman. I feel strong, happy, confident and independent now but I think the reason I’m still single and afraid to start another relationship is that I still have the codependency traits deep within me, they just are kept at bay

  • Marian Hossa

    I had no idea that my NF affected me this deeply but this article really spoke to me when I found it again this morning.

  • Anna Puchalski

    Hi Marian. I’m so glad that you found it helpful. The pull and influence of those around us can be so very strong. A lot of time, in good ways. Although, there are those time when we get stronger by experiencing the hard way as well. Good luck healing and finding the authentic you again.

  • MNB

    The part that does’t seem to addressed here is the extreme selfishness and need to control others that the codependent exhibits. Everything that they do is designed to manipulate and control the people and situations around them. The fact that it’s usually done covertly through passive aggressive behaviour makes it even more insidious. The idea of the codependent as an innocent victim that just cares too much about other people is largely a myth.

  • Anna Puchalski

    Thank you for your comment. Codependents, just like everyone else suffer from matters of coincidence and circumstance. Shaming, no matter what condition anyone suffers from has been proven to not be an effective way to begin to change and especially heal. Instead, these techniques are for people with codependent tendencies to find improvement in their lives and relationships. We all have our own crosses to bear and path to journey on. Take care.

  • MNB

    Codependent relationships are all about control and manipulation. That applies equally to both parties involved. There seems to be a lot of attention being focused on the narcissist’s role in that dynamic without holding the codependent themselves responsible for their behavior. Denial is an equally ineffective way to begin to change and heal.

  • Anna Puchalski

    It seems as though you had some experiences with codependent behavior that have not been humanizing. I hope you find your own path in change and healing!

  • MNB

    Control is abuse. Ignoring abusive behavior and attemping to shame someone for calling attetion to it is never a humanizing experience.

  • Greer Alexandra

    Thankyou so much Anna <3 Greer Alexandra

  • Ungahhh

    Women are such morons…

  • Maggie Lara

    I am so confused! this sound like my daughter but also me. My daughter feels that i ALWAYS need to be there for her, and when we have a miss communication, understanding, or i can’t be there for her she lashes out at me tells me really mean things. She is an adult with two kids and a husband. I feel like i have to be there for her to please her and keep peace between us. She feels like i owe her and it needs to be her way or else she will get hurt and angry with me. I was in and out of her life till she was about 11 than i was content in her life. She has depression and anxiety. Im just confused on who the codependent falls on!

  • Anna Puchalski

    I’m sorry to hear of your situation Maggie Lara. I hope that with some patience and time you will find a way to make the relationship with your daughter work for you and her both. I’m sure you are both very important to one another in each others lives. Best of luck.

  • Anna Puchalski


  • Anna Puchalski

    Hi Kelly. Good for you for making such a courageous choice in your life, and seeing the wisdom behind the choices that we make. Those fears are always with us, at it’s best it a good trait that shows empathy and compassion, and we can hope we can use that same wisdom to reel it back in once it begins to show it’s ugly side.

  • Anna Puchalski

    Thank you for your kind words, Lisa. Sometimes it is just that simple, and in retrospect, kind of can even be humorous!

  • Kari Giddings

    Thanks for this!

  • lsc jobling

    I can totally relate to where you are. I lived in a similar movie scene for far too long. I don’t like myself right now. I am seeing a therapist to help me to find a reason to get out of bed most days. I still feel useless. I am still trying to find out what it is that will give me back my self love/esteem/confidence. I feel helpless, but hopeful that this too will get better. I quit all my addictions as no longer wish to be controlled by anything other than myself in this life.