How a Codependent Manipulates

Anger gave me a voice. Not in a good way, since I’ve been healthy, but in a bad way, when I was still in the insanity of my codependency. When I began telling people about struggling with codependency, they would look at me like I was crazy. “What? You codependent?” They didn’t believe it because I have always been a strong personality with strong opinions. But this was a facade of self-worth and self-esteem that I didn’t really posses inside. This was me fighting to obtain a sense of security, because inside I felt wrong. I’m not talking about feeling like I was wrong about something in particular, but I was wrong in my being. And I was afraid. Of everybody and everything. I was afraid of making people angry. I was afraid of hurting their feelings. I was afraid of confrontation. I knew deep down that because of my fear, and feeling wrong, I couldn’t be myself, I didn’t have a voice. But I wanted one so badly. So I fought it by being opinionated and strong. However, I only expressed these traits when it didn’t involve direct confrontation or anger.

Eventually not having a real voice builds up inside a codependent, and we finally erupt in rage. We let things build inside: resentment, anger, frustration, hurt, and then the anger finally becomes bigger than the fear and we no longer care about hurting someone’s feelings or making them angry. We’ve finally had enough! But it’s usually only with those we’re the closest to. For me, this was my husband. Along with the anger would come lot’s of emotion with crying, yelling, pouting, and my favorite “codependent punishing behavior” – silence. I realized as I got healthy that all of it was manipulation. I wanted him to “feel” what I was feeling, to understand how he “made” me feel, to feel sorry for the way he treated me, and ultimately, to change. And, of course, I felt completely justified (and of course all my friends agreed!).

What I learned in my recovery process is that I wasn’t justified, because I was responsible for the way he treated me, for allowing his anger and control issues to impact me. I was responsible for enabling his thinking that everything was about him by making everything about him myself. I was responsible for constantly trying to “make” him feel better instead of letting him deal with his own emotions. I was responsible for not speaking up and saying what I wanted or didn’t want, directly and without anger instead of indirectly, manipulatively, with anger or pouting or punishment (yeah, that’ll make him listen and change – NOT). MY actions, not his, got me to that place of anger. I blamed him, and blamed him, and blamed him for my unhappiness, yet I chose every bit of it.

Learning how to have a voice without anger, learning how to be direct and honest without manipulation has been difficult, especially in the beginning when my husband couldn’t handle it and tried everything he could to keep me in a codependent place. I couldn’t have claimed it without the power of Christ in me. The Holy Spirit enabled me to claim (not reclaim, because I’ve never had it before) the free will he gave me. Christ died so I could be free, not so I could become a slave to anyone or anything. Even though it’s been really, really hard, going through the process of recovery has set me free to be me. Finally.