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Forgiving yourself as a codependent

Forgiving yourself as a codependent
It's taken me all day to post this, trying my hardest to make it come out right. I apologize if this is O/T - this is where I come for "help."

I'm discovering a lot about myself as I figure out this whole codependency issue. I've been reading the book, "Love is a Choice - Recovery for Codependent Relationships" as recommended by someone on this board. This book breaks down how a person becomes codependent - issues from childhood - physical abuse, emotional abuse, alcohol or drug addicted parents, lack of emotional support, etc., etc. It all fits my childhood very well. I'm okay with that. I understand that is what made me this way.

But ... I am struggling.

When I look at what I've put my own children through, it breaks my heart (and reading this book is now making me feel guilty for what I have put on my own children).

Married for 5 years to their father who was verbally abusive and emotionally absent. He also became physically abusive during the divorce.

Moved on to a 1 year relationship with an alcoholic.

Move on to a 3 year relationship with a meth addict, steroid/ecstasy/pain killer user (the one you hear so much about).

So now I'm reading in this book, about how I became the way that I am ... I've been exposing my children to that exact same crap for their entire lives, jumping from partner to partner, all of them being abusive in one form or another.

And in dealing with these relationships, my involvement emotionally, the fighting, the stress, being short tempered --- more abuse directly toward my kids from ME (without even knowing that I was doing it).

I'm feeling overwhelming guilt for what I have put my children through. The purpose of that book has now been completely turned around and I'm having a difficult time coping with what I'VE done.

Have I just set them up for the same pain I'm going through?

I've been to counselors - let go of the guilt, put it behind you. But how? I'm now a mess, worrying about the damage that I've caused to my children (and I know it doesn't do any good to worry but how do you make it stop)? I know I provide the best environment for them and I know that they know they are loved (something I never felt growing up) ... but what negative impacts have I caused on their precious lives and how do I fix it? Can I fix it?

I know it doesn't do any good to beat myself up over it, it's done. But how do I let go of the guilt?

Just like the meth addict that has to deal with their guilt in recovery ... how do I, as the codependent, deal with the guilt for decisions I made FOR my children that could have possibly caused them pain?
Re Forgiving yourself as a codependent


how do I, as the codependent, deal with the guilt for decisions I made FOR my children that could have possibly caused them pain?

By accepting that yes, they did have pain.
But they also have seen courage. They have also seen love. They have also seen their mother value them and herself enough to leave an abusive situation.
They have seen their mother battle to give them a better life- to be a better mother.

There are 2 sides to every coin Karen. You can't have the good without the bad, you can't truly appreciate the sun if you have never known dark.

Just as they have learned from your mistakes, they also learn from you get it rights.
I think these days you have more rights than wrongs.
Don't you ?

mmkf1 Re Forgiving yourself as a codependent
You TEACH them. And then you hope for the best. As they get older you share with them. And then you hope for the best. You're stopping the madness. It's okay for them to know you're only human. and it's ok for you to tell them at the right time that you hope for them that they are able to make better choices for themselves. And you know what, they probably might. So relax and be proud that you're not continuing a cycle, that you found the strength and courage to learn a different way.
Re Forgiving yourself as a codependent
I so feel you on this one. My sister and I were just talking about this. My son has had more damage from my marriage, because of my choices, than when I was single.

I was a single mom for 8 years. I was adamant about who I let into my son's life. I protected him. I never brought men home.

But for the last two years, he has seen me crumble emotionally, be lied to, screamed at, do the screaming and yelling, watch our family unit fall apart and me make threats and not follow through.

He was the one telling me Mike needed to leave. That he just brought me down and he couldn't stand the way he was treating me.

When I finally stood my ground, he was so awesome. He is such a compassionate young man.

Now that Mike is home, he is working just as hard to regain the trust of my son and his.

I do feel guilt. I think about what kind of example I set. But at the same time, I did the best I could at the time. No one of us is perfect. All parents damage their kids in one way or another. That is part of life and part of growing up.

The only thing we can do is fix ourselves and talk to our kids honestly about our mistakes. Just like addicts, we can reverse damage with our ACTIONS.
RIP Re Forgiving yourself as a codependent
dear silly,

Have you finished the book yet? It has some great ideas on how to deal with the forgiveness thing that you so much want!

If I could offer you some hope...it is that you are not that person that you were nor are in any of those unhealthy relationships TODAY .
Once you get deep enough into the book, you will begin the 10 stage recovery process, which will help guide you to the place you so desire.

Remember this is a lot of work ( I know you can do it). For me I wanted it to be all fixed RIGHT NOW damn it!
But it doesn't work that way patience, persistence, faith and desire are the only true ways to true freedom from codependency.
Re Forgiving yourself as a codependent
Have you finished the book yet?

No - I'm only about one-fourth of the way through it. I honestly cannot believe how much it hits home and has already opened up my eyes. I battled through the beginning chapters, dealing with my own childhood and how I ended up where I'm at.
But that dropped me in this well - this hole that I can't get out of ... beating myself up and feeling guilty for what I've put my kids through. Now worrying about what their relationships will be like as they get older - will they turn to drugs or alcohol themselves?
I know I have to be patient ... and I really look forward to continuing reading and hope that some answers lie in the pages to come.

But it doesn't work that way patience, persistence, faith and desire are the only true ways to true freedom from codependency.

I needed that reminder - thank you.

I'm not sure what my problem is - again, between the full moon, the hormones from the pill change, and now my period -- I just feel lost and an emotional wreck.

Re Forgiving yourself as a codependent
Karen, if you stay stuck on what is in the past, stuck on what you can't change, you lose today - something that is within your control.
When you get a better grip on your emotions, maybe you should just ask your children what they think? Are they old enough?
I just went through that this past winter with my eldest son- a lot of old emotional garbage from both of us, how I was raised, how I in turn raised him, just a lot of old hurts.
It was hard but worth it. We are both in a much better place now.
What is done is done- it can not be changed only accepted for what it is, made peace with , and move on.
I was asked this awhile back on this forum- we were discussing childhoods and such, I had made the comment on how much guilt I had felt over how my children were raised, how much I allowed for them to witness from their Dad.
Someone said to me are you proud of your children now? Did they turn out okay?
Yes Karen they did. They really did.
Then why would you change anything?
Karen, that is a good question - why looking back, having the benefit of hindsight, seeing where we all are now, why would I change anything?
What they witnessed growing up may very well be the reason their lives are the way they are.
That they are not meth addicts, alcoholics, etc......
When you are better able, just talk with your kids. Talk with them and listen to how they feel. You listening will validate their feelings and do more for healing than anything else.
You have done the best you could at the time- you know more and will do better now.
You are a good mom. You do love your kids. You do see where change needs to be made and you have the courage to change.
What more could anyone ask? really?
RIP Re Forgiving yourself as a codependent
This too shall pass.
I felt dumbfounded at about a quarter of the way through it as well.
It got better....... and when I started with the meat and potatoes of the program I got better.   YOU WILL TOO!


Re Forgiving yourself as a codependent
Thanks, Theresa - some really great advice! My children are 7 and 9 and I feel like we have a very open relationship (I'm always asking how they feel, what's going on, how others are treating them ... and I feel like they give honest answers). I tuck them in every night and we talk about anything that's bothering them (sometimes I think I talk too much).

I'm a worrier ... it's one of the things I hope this book can help me figure out.


Re Forgiving yourself as a codependent

What is self-forgiveness?
Self-forgiving is:
Accepting yourself as a human who has faults and makes mistakes.
Letting go of self anger for your past failures, errors, and mistakes.
No longer needing penance, sorrow, and regret over a grievous, self-inflicted, personal offense.
The act of self love after you have admitted your failure, mistake, or misdeed.
The spiritual self healing of your heart by calming self rejection, quieting the sense of failure, and lightening the burden of guilt.
The act of letting go of the need to work so hard to make up for your past offenses.
Negative consequences of the absence of self-forgiveness
In the absence of self forgiveness, you run the risk of:
Unresolved hurt, pain, and suffering from self-destructive behaviors.
Unresolved guilt and remorse for self-inflicted offenses.
Chronically seeking revenge and paybacks toward yourself.
Being caught up in unresolved self anger, self hatred and self blaming.
Defensive and distant behavior with others.
Pessimism, negativity, and non-growth oriented behavior.
Having a festering wound that never allows the revitalization of self healing.
Fear over making new mistakes or of having the old mistakes revealed.
Being overwhelmed by fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of non approval, low self-esteem, and low self worth.
Signs of the absence of self-forgivenessLack of self forgiveness can result in:
A loss of love for yourself.
Indifference toward yourself and your needs.
An emotional vacuum in which little or no emotions are shown or shared.
Chronic attacks or angry outbursts against self.
Disrespectful treatment of self.
Self-destructive behaviors.
Chronic recalling and reminding of past failures, mistakes, errors, and offenses.
Suspicions about others' motives, behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs when they are accepting of you.
Chronic depression.
Chronic hostility, sarcasm, and cynicism.
Self name calling, belittling, and self demeaning behaviors.
Unwillingness to change and/or unwillingness to seek the help necessary to change.
Resistance to doing what is necessary to heal within and recover from low self-esteem.
Irrational thinking preventing self-forgivenessI hurt myself so much; how can I ever expect to be forgiven for that?
No one deserved the treatment I dished out, and I do not believe that forgiveness is deserved in this situation.
I am sick over what I did; how can I ever forgive myself?
I must be inherently evil, and I am despicable. No forgiveness will ever change that.
I am vicious and cruel, and I always need to be on guard because of that; so why try to forgive what I have done? It is a sign of weakness or softness to forgive myself. I must always keep my guard up so as never to repeat my wrongdoings.
There are some things I can never forgive myself for.
Only God can forgive me, though at times I don't believe He can for what I have done.
What has happened in my life is God's seeking revenge for all the evil I have done in the past.
I have done too much for which I can never be forgiven.
I am just seeking my forgiveness so that I can come back and hurt myself again.
I do not deserve any self kindness, self compassion, or self forgiveness for what I have done to myself or others; I'll see to it that I am never able to forget it!
All people who do wrong deserve the worst that life has to dish out.
I resent myself for hurting myself or others. It is better for me to be hidden behind my wall so I don't hurt anybody again.
If I could treat myself or others that way, then I am undeserving of being forgiven, loved, or cared for.
New behaviors needed to create self-forgiveness
In order to forgive yourself you need to practice:
Letting go of past hurt and pain.
Trusting in your goodness.
Trusting in the goodness and mercy of your Higher Power to take over the burden for you.
Letting go and letting your Higher Power lead you during a hurtful time.
Believing in the infinite justice and wisdom of your Higher Power.
Letting go of fears for the future.
Allowing yourself to be vulnerable to growth.
Taking a risk.
Letting go of self hostility, resentment and self-destructive behaviors.
Working out your self anger.
Overlooking slight relapses or steps backward and getting back on the wagon of recovery immediately.
Developing a personal spirituality.
Developing an openness to the belief that you can change.
Developing trust in yourself.
Open, honest, and assertive communication with yourself concerning hurts, pains, and offenses experienced.
Identifying and replacing the irrational beliefs that block your ability to forgive yourself.

Steps to develop self-forgiveness
Step 1: In order to increase your ability to forgive yourself, you need to recognize what this behavior involves. Answer the following questions in your journal.
A. What do you mean by "self forgiveness''?
B. Have you ever forgiven yourself before? How did it feel?
C. Have you ever brought up something from the past to remind you how you hurt yourself or others? How did that make you feel?
D. What role do you feel self forgiveness has in your growing down? How could you improve?
E. How has the absence of forgiving yourself affected your current emotional stability?
F. What are the signs of the absence of self forgiveness in your relationship with your: (1) family of origin, (2) current family, (3) significant others, (4) spouse, (5) children, (6) parents, (7) relatives, (8) friends, (9) coworkers? With whom do you experience a wall or barrier behind which you hide your past real or perceived failures, mistakes, errors, or misdeeds? What feedback do you get about this wall you have been hiding behind?
G. What beliefs block your ability to forgive yourself? What would be necessary to change these beliefs?
H. What new behaviors do you need to develop in order to increase your ability to forgive yourself?
I. What role does the existence of spirituality play in your ability to forgive yourself? The lack of it?
J. For what do you need to forgive yourself?
Step 2: Now that you have a better picture of what is involved in self forgiveness, you are ready to work on a specific past failure, mistake, error, or misdeed.
A. List a failure, mistake, error, misdeed, or event for which you are unable to forgive yourself.
B. How much energy, creativity, problem solving capability, and focus on growth is sapped from you whenever you recall this past hurt?
C. What feelings come to mind as you recall this past hurt?
D. How would you describe your role in this past event? In what ways were you the victim, perpetrator, enabler, martyr, bystander, instigator, target, scapegoat, distracter, peacemaker, people pleaser, or rescuer?
E. Why do you feel strongly over what happened and how you treated yourself or others?
F. What did this event do to your self-esteem and self worth?
G. Who was responsible for your reaction to the incident?
H. Who was responsible for your feelings about the incident?
I. Who was responsible for your inability to forgive yourself?
J. How can you forgive yourself?
K. How can you put this incident behind you?
L. How can you avoid being so hurt when something like this happens again?
Step 3: Once you have thought out how to forgive yourself for this past mistake, failure, error, or event, use this self forgiveness mirror work script. For the next thirty days let go of your self anger, self blaming, self hatred, self disgust, and self-pity over this specific past event by spending time in front of a mirror using this script.
Self Forgiveness Mirror Script
I forgive you for (the past event).
You are a human being subject to making mistakes and errors.
You do not need to be perfect in order for me to love you.
This (past event) is just an example of the challenges which you have been given on earth by your Higher Power.
You will meet the challenge and grow by handing the pain and hurt from this problem (past event) over to your Higher Power to take it off your shoulders.
You don't need to be so burdened by the pain and hurt you feel because of this (past event).
You are a good person. I love you.
You deserve my understanding, compassion, and forgiveness.
You deserve to come out from behind the wall you have built around yourself as a result of this (past event).
Hand the wall over to your Higher Power so you can become more visible to me and others.
I love seeing you, talking to you, and listening to you.
You have within you all you need to grow in self-esteem, self-confidence, self-respect, and self deservedness.
There is nothing you have ever done that can't be forgiven by me.
You did the best you could knowing what you did at the time.
You have compulsive and impulsive habitual ways of acting which you are working to change.
You may have slip ups again but as long as you get back on the wagon of recovery and keep on trying that's good enough for me.
You no longer need to condemn yourself for this (past event).
You are forgiven. I love you and I am so happy to have you in my life.
You and I are best friends and together we will gain strength by giving all our past hurt, pain, guilt, self anger, and self hatred over to our Higher Power.
I feel lighter as we talk because I feel the burden of the hurt, pain, and guilt over this (past event) lifting from my shoulders.
I see you holding your head up and standing taller as I forgive you for this (past event).
I know that your Higher Power has forgiven you and I feel the peace and serenity of letting go of the need to hold on to it (past event) anymore.
I forgive you because you deserve to be forgiven. No one needs to hold onto such a burden for so long.
You deserve a better life than you have been giving yourself.
Let go of this (past event) and know that you are forgiven.
You are a loveable, capable, special person and I promise to continue to work on letting go of hurt and pain from the past which has been preventing your inner healing and self growth.
Step 4: Once you have forgiven yourself fully over the past incident, repeat Step 3 addressing one at a time all the past or present incidents of hurting self or others for which you need to forgive yourself.
Step 5: When you have exhausted your list of incidents for which you need self-forgiveness, you will be on the road to self-recovery. If you have problems in the future, return to Step 1 and begin again.


Re Forgiving yourself as a codependent
Wow - thanks! Can't wait to read all of this when I get home (I printed it off).

See also:

Codependent books for reading, any suggestions?

Codependent with bitterness / anger - have I become my mom?

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