My Codependency with Fear

I’ve never experienced codependency to people out of a fear of abandonment. I am not afraid of being left, I am afraid of being harmed. Fear is the driving force behind most, if not all, of my innate responses to life. We are biologically wired to be in community and rely upon a connection with other humans. This evolutionary survival need rests right beside my trauma-bound reality. I am terrified of people because they hurt me, yet I am also wired to need them. My entire life is thus a dance between the two.

I was asked in therapy the other day, “What wounds scream loudest in your partnership and cause you to react instead of respond?” After inhaling and checking in with my body, I knew. At the core of my person, at the root of all of my reactions, lies the message that I am unsafe. As a survivor of parent-driven childhood abuse, human connection has been woven into violence from the day I was born and it is my responsibility as a privileged adult to unweave it.

My fear of harm is a pulsating, arduous, stimulant that instructs me to people please and places my needs last. Being in a long-term, committed, partnership has been one of the greatest examples of this. In order for me to be a fully realized individual, and not just play a role, I have to actively converse with the messages my trauma left burrowed into the cells of my being. Rewiring my response to connection and love means allowing myself to be afraid and creating space to do this in accordance with my body’s guidance instead of in repeated trauma patterns.

With the tools I learned in therapy, I have the option to hold space in myself to feel a traumatized version of fear, which cannot be compelled or coerced into anything else. This fear is scary, but in the aftermath of releasing it, I feel freer and less bound to it. My codependency with fear is rooted in my need to protect myself and it is valid. The only way to retrain my brain is to feel that. Feeling my traumatized fear invites me to experience a new version of it, and in turn, allow myself to expand past victimhood and enter back into my body. Being a scapegoat (a people pleaser to life) is not a wound but a symptom. When I realize the roots of my actions, instead of shaming myself, I am able to grasp that they are merely the surface layer of what is going on. I am afraid and my body is calling me to create that space to feel it. If I don’t, it will come out messy and mangled, forcing me to live chained to the roles of my past. In time, with feeling, with privilege, my symptoms subside because my wounds are welcome to be known.

It is unfair that our path to healing is treacherous when the cause of such trauma was done outside our consent. This is why it is so necessary to create compassion within the work. To know there will be days and seasons where we’re angry and resentful towards it. To understand and empathize with the parts of us unable to see it any other way than through the trauma’s lens. To know we’re valid, even when our choices mirror our past roles and direct us to our past wounds. To direct our path towards love, but also hold space for the times when we’d rather be estranged from our bodies and hate everything we are. The unfairness, the roles, the reactions, and the patterns can only shift when autonomy is restored. That includes the autonomy to say “I’m done with this shit,” as much as it includes the autonomy to say “I feel the privilege and gratitude in it.”

You’re not alone in that. You’re not alone here. I do this work beside you.