“I’m letting you go and if you come back to me, I’m keeping you forever.”
I surprised myself at how gently and kindly I said these words to my girlfriend at the time. I had learned that she needed to figure out some things. She needed space, and I had obliged.
But not without a fair amount of inner struggle on my part.
After a few months of dating, it was clear that we were both smitten.
Although, smitten is too simple to describe how I was really feeling. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was codependent.
According to Google, codependency is “excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner.” I couldn’t bear to be apart from her. If I was with her, I was happy, if I wasn’t with her, I was miserable.
My life was unbearably unbalanced, but I was too lovestruck to notice.
With the help of my therapist, I learned how enjoying time, activities, and friendships away from her would allow us to have a healthier relationship. I tried to be more relaxed, finding joy in the other aspects of my life as well.
As soon as I released my emotional vice grip on her, she quickly worked out what she needed to.
She came right back to me, and we were married only a few months later.
Codependency and passions
This morning, as I lay in bed thinking about all I had to do today, I realized there was only one thing that I really wanted to do.
Work on my new website idea.
The longer I was there, the more inspiration I received. When the revelation flows, I can’t seem to stop it, nor do I want to.
I love the way it feels to wake up with bursts of inspiration regarding the work I’m passionate about.
But then my mind caught a glimpse of all the other work I had to get done today. First of which was studying for my professional engineering exam in a month, which was far less exciting than the prospect of building a new website.
I thought of all the other to-do’s on my list and felt overwhelmed. Not because of all I had to do, but because all of that I knew would get in the way of what I really wanted to do.
It’s the one project that I can stop thinking about and feeling inspired to work on.
I’m a serial hobbyist. It runs in my Family. I find something I like, get really passionate about it, become pretty good, then leave it alone for a long time.
I easily become codependent with my passions.
I can’t seem to think of anything else. I don’t think of or do much other than my new passion, which gets 100% of my attention every waking hour.
This is, in part, why I burn out so quickly and frequently.
But the other problem, the bigger issue, is that I struggle to find joy in or the desire to do anything else. I know that I love running, reading, hiking, camping, and family time, but I just don’t feel like I want to do those things.
I’ve been through the same pattern multiple times before.
I get passionate about something, unhealthily tighten my mental attachment, and drive it away.
As I think about this exciting new prospect I have today, I wonder if I’m more in love with the excitement of it than the idea itself. I know that either way I am showing signs of codependency.
If I don’t take care of this, I will burn out, and my new opportunity will fail.
And yet, I know the way to let the idea result in success instead of burnout. I’ve been through codependency before.
It takes finding joy in other aspects of life — spiritual, family, financial, physical, mental, and fun — to be healthy with your passions. You can’t spend your entire day on what you’re most excited about, or you will burn out and give up on it permanently.
You have to let your passions go if you want to keep them forever.