Have you reached a point where your patterns and behavior have become so painfully clear, embarrassing, and destructive… you start to lose hope? And because you don’t know how to get out of the cycle, you accept that your intuition will never be something that you’ll have the self-esteem to actually befriend and act on. All you know how to do is prosecute your intuition down to nothing and turn a blind eye via self-blame. I know I’ve been there. But for most of my life, every time I thought I had reached the point of BFF status with my intuition, I’d somehow find myself in a vastly different situation with the same damn outcome: heartbreak, unnecessary drama, insecurity, jealousy, lies, blaming myself for everything, and being crazy-labeled. Years later, I found out that these symptoms of my relationships were all signs of codependency.

“Am I codependent?” I thought. I didn’t even know what codependency was. All I knew was that I was in pain. The kind of pain that is so over-powering, you become convinced that without a toxic partner to save you, you’ll never find a way out.

If the healing of your pain is completely dependent on the decisions, actions, and behaviors of other people, you completely disqualify yourself from being an active participant in your own healing (and life). By doing this, you communicate to the universe that you’re more comfortable being in a dependent relationship (with your triggers, the cynical audience in your own head, and other people) than you are addressing your codependent personality.

For me, the idea of overcoming codependency sounded so much better than actually getting better.

Getting better was too scary. I didn’t know where to even begin sorting myself out.

Denial and avoidance were so much easier.

And since the universe has a way of always bringing back to us what we put out, I just kept getting more and more of the same. At that point, I had abandoned myself for so long, my life had become nothing more than micromanaging the “please don’t abandon me,” of every relationship I had and every opportunity that ultimately, I sabotaged.

I was so thirsty for validation; so busy trying to secure acceptance, there was no room for genuine connection or meaning in my relationships – starting with the relationship I had with myself. And as long as you don’t know who the f*ck you are, you will always look to toxic people/bankrupt sources to tell you who are and what you’re worth.

This was my reality for over 20 years of my life. Wash, rinse and humiliatingly, repeat.

What is codependency?

Codependent relationships are always one-sided. They have the highest highs and the absolute lowest lows. Although these relationships can feel very intimate (because an “us against the world” mentality is needed for survival), they are the opposite of what true intimacy is all about.

Codependency is when you have an excessive, unhealthy emotional and psychological reliance on your partner. It’s when you sacrifice your own needs and mental health to serve theirs. In your servitude, you live outside of yourself but are always able to quickly shift gears and make your partner’s behavior all about how you are somehow, never enough.

It’s where one (dysfunctional) person enables another (dysfunctional) person’s poor mental health, addiction, narcissism, immaturity, irresponsibility, gaslighting, sociopathy, avoidance, etc.

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Let’s get right to the point, because if you were in a relationship with a toxic, emotionally unavailable, or narcissistic person and despite it all, continue to miss this person during a No Contact period, the question “does he miss me during No Contact?” probably lives in your bones.

Especially around the holidays.

The answer is: Yes. Your ex misses you in the very same way he was in a relationship with you…

Inconsistently.

I’ll explain.

As with many things, to understand the answer to the questions “does he think about me?” or “does he miss me during no contact?” requires that we unpack those questions first.

You already know this, but the purpose of no contact is to remove yourself from a toxic relationship and avoid being triggered by someone who brought you pain, so that you can heal and move forward.

Should you feel shame for even asking these questions?

Does the constant, banging refrain of “Does he miss me during no contact?” mean that you are not healing?

Does the very fact that you are asking these questions mean that you miss your ex so terribly that you are actually destined to be together?

No.

Wondering “does my ex miss me?” is normal.

If you are grasping, desperate, and obsessed for some sign that he misses you… that’s normal too. If you feel like you somehow exist a little bit less in this world or that the holidays are void of joy because you are hearing radio silence, please know that you are not crazy. You make sense.

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When you keep your relationship private, it doesn’t mean that you never talk about it or share what’s going on in your love life.

It doesn’t mean that you have to bottle anything in either.

Keeping your relationship private should never feel like you are depriving yourself of part of the joy of being in a relationship. You should, however, make sure that your definition of relational joy is more about your relationship and less about pleasing/triggering/wow-ing other people. If it’s even slightly more external, you will be robbing your relationship of the very intimacy that you complain about (and question your worth over) an absence of.

Outside validation used to dictate the success of my relationships. Keeping my relationship private was out of the question. I would prioritize the opinions of friends and family over my mental and relational health.

As a kid, it was ingrained in my head, both at school and at home, that I had/was nothing without other people’s approval. I ended up becoming a very superficially dependent, people pleasing and insecure young adult whose sole source of validation came from the outside. I always felt like I had something to prove because I was never taught that true validation can only come from within.

There was no way I could keep my relationship private. I was so desperate to make it known that I was good/sexy/smart/attractive enough to land whatever guy I was with. (No matter how narcissistic he was, I would pedestal).

The goal was to make everyone either jealous that they didn’t have a Happily Ever After relationship as fantastic as mine or put them in a state of crippling regret for blowing it with me and hopefully, make them all feel as inadequate and lonely as I did deep down.

And I did this in such embarrassing ways. I would do this while posting quotes about gratitude and self-love and not comparing yourself to others. I was a contradictory, self-sabotaging, compulsive liar whose desire to prove everyone wrong and be one of the cool kids, outweighed the self-love that I had no idea how to jumpstart.

None of those relationships ever worked out.

As I got older and matured, I calmed down a bit. There were relationships where I felt so genuinely happy, I just wanted everyone to know. What was so wrong with that? I was able to keep my relationships private in ways I had not been able to before but most of the time, there was some new argument or drama that I needed to run by everyone I knew and get their advice on. I had a terrible tendency to overshare.

If your emotional core is not solid and your boundaries are not intact, your relationships will only be able to feel (falsely) solid if insulated by the applause, (social media) attention, and validation from everyone other than you and your partner.

Just over ten years ago, I met a man who was everything that my triggers were not attracted to.

This included being very private.

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Even if you don’t know exactly where to start, you will always know when you need to raise your standards.

Standards, boundaries, and mental health go hand-in-hand. You can’t have one without the others. 

Your life is a direct reflection of the standards that you have for yourself and for other people. Most people who have impossibly high standards for others have very little for themselves. This used to be me. My intuition kept saying “raise your standards,” but I was frozen in my fears, triggers, and insecurities.

The scariest but most life-changing and rewarding thing you can do for yourself is to implement standards. This isn’t about “he/she has to make X amount of money” or look a certain way or whatever other superficial bs. Those aren’t standards. Those are conditions that rob your life of substance and meaning.

When you have real, substantial standards, the quality of your life will increase because you are finally able to ACT on the realization that your mental health is more important than:

  • Your job.
  • The expectations/hopes/dreams/plans that your family and friends have for you.
  • Your relationships with them.
  • Your romantic relationship.
  • People pleasing.

No matter who they are or what it is, your mental health is more important than anyone or anything. Without it, you have nothing. However, raising your standards can be scary.

It’s scary to go no contact with someone that you still love and miss.

It’s scary to commit to non-reactivity.

It’s scary to block them.

It’s scary to let people live with the consequences of decisions that they chose to make.

It’s scary to experience the first symptom of standard setting which is loneliness.

It’s scary to ACT on “I will lose anyone and anything before I will lose my mind.”

But it’s worth it. 

Prioritizing my mental health cost me friends I never thought I’d lose and family that I was convinced, would always be there.

And I’m not a failure for still missing them.

I’m human.

If prioritizing your mental health means disappointing them, then, by all means, disappoint them. You will finally stop being a disappointment to yourself and be able to reclaim this life as your own.

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If you don’t know how to respect yourself, all you have to do is search online and you’ll get a bunch of recommendations.

  • Don’t settle for less than you deserve.
  • Recite a positive affirmation in the mirror every morning.
  • Be honest with yourself.
  • Remind yourself of your worth.
  • Surround yourself with positive people.
  • Discard negative thoughts.
  • Get physically (or if you can’t, emotionally) distant from narcissistic people.
  • Take care of your body.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others.
  • Work on building your confidence every day.

And while these are all great ideas if you already have somewhat of a foundation to go off of…

What happens when you’re coming to the table not just looking for a better meal, but completely malnourished?

What happens when you’re in such a deficit that, even though you want to, you can’t eat any of the food on the table?

If you’re severely starved and malnourished, eating a bunch of food right away could be dangerous. If you don’t ease back into it, you’ll get sick.

Or even worse…

Because you literally cannot stomach this food that you are starving for (and know that your body needs), you come to the conclusion that there must be something wrong with you for not being able to digest it.

No matter what you try, you’re screwed. So, you become a victim who no longer believes that they are meant to survive. How can you even try to be a survivor when you know that there’s no way you can survive without food?

When we are emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically malnourished, trying any of the bullet points above will just make us feel more defective and unworthy – even though they are healthy recommendations to follow. One of the root causes of emotional, spiritual, and physical suicide is repeated attempts at trying to eat that proverbial food and do what we know is good for us, but somehow, ending up in a place where we’ve added to our deficit instead of diminishing it.

If you’re trying to figure out how to respect yourself when you are already at a place of having healthy boundaries, decent self-esteem, and an ability to not act on your emotional triggers, the proverbial food will at the very least, be digestible.

If you’re trying to figure out how to respect yourself when you have no self-respect to begin with…

All the food that you so desperately need will still make you sick and discourage you. At this point, it’s indigestible.

You have to start smaller.

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This is an important post. The most important post that I’ve written here on the blog. It’s also a labyrinth of a situation to be in.  I really don’t know if I can do this post justice, because there is nothing simple about knowing how to deal with toxic family members.

Here is what we all know: 

  • Toxic co-workers are difficult and can be detrimental.
  • Toxic romances are difficult and can be detrimental.
  • Toxic friendships are difficult and can be detrimental.

So, we know the same will apply to toxic family members. However, it is an especially insidious connection to have, as our family is meant to be the safe haven that we fall back on in life.

We can choose our friends, but our family is a choiceless deal.

For better or worse, these are your relatives. Love them, hate them, or loathe them.

  • It is where we first learn about love, boundaries, and how to connect with others.
  • It is where we learn patterns – healthy or otherwise.
  • It is where we learn the value of loyalty, being loved, being cared for, and valued.

Sadly, these qualities are sometimes learned through growing up and being denied them.

This is a naked fact. Not a pleasant one, but a fact nonetheless.

Toxicity in relationships. There are four ways it presents itself:

  • Physical abuse
  • Mental abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Sexual abuse

First, know that if you are in a situation where you are dealing with toxic family members (or anyone else for that matter)…

When a family member is toxic, remember that you do not deserve to be treated badly or abused. We are meant to flourish, be happy, feel loved and cared for. To be safe. If you are dealing with a toxic family member who shows no respect for your feelings or boundaries, as crushing as it can be, it doesn’t have to be your forever. Staying away from toxic family can be defined in many ways.

We start life belonging to a special group, taking these people for granted in some ways, as the ones who will always be there for us. We call them our family. The ones with whom we share special traditions, things we do on birthdays, at Christmas or holidays, ways that are passed down through generations.

We share recipes, physical traits, heirlooms, and secrets. Sometimes, we also share toxic traits with toxic parents; behaviors that serve no one but exist anyway.

This is where the labyrinth becomes twisted.

We cannot give out free passes to family though just because they are family. If you are dealing with a destructive relative, it is no more acceptable than it would be in any other individual.

Excuses – not reasons.

There are people who damage others and refuse to own their behavior in any way. They are full of excuses, or others provide excuses for them. Well-being isn’t of importance here. And we feel guilty.

As a child, there is little to nothing we can do about a parent who is addicted to alcohol, drugs, in and out of relationships, violent, verbally abusive, sexually inappropriate, or narcissistic. That is the travesty. We must live with it. This becomes daily life, our reality, the way we grow up. What is even harder, is almost always, the toxic family member doesn’t care about the negative impact they have on others. On us. On our growth and development.

Sadly, often other family members who are aware of the toxicity are either powerless to change it or too afraid to make any attempt to intervene. In a way, this is one of the hardest things to swallow about a toxic family member: sometimes others that we trust and depend on, enable and endorse their sickness by covering it up or excusing it.

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