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The concept of co-dependency has always confused me? What does this actually mean and how does this impact me particularly as a woman? As many of us from my generation, I grew up feeling like I could not really care for myself as a woman. Somehow I was unsafe in this world and needed a man to take care of me. I would like to think that I felt independent but that was not true. At the same time, i did not ever want to give up my identity, who I truly was as a person. How do you do this in a relationship? Is it true that one needs to live alone for a long time to truly heal and become whole? This does not seem practical nor necessary to me. While in some cases, this solitude may be needed, in many cases I feel you can grow in relationships even if there is turmoil as every relationship offers a chance to grow. 

I have had many friends and clients speak to me about the concept of this perfect soulmate? Many have said they met this person and felt an instant connection. It was as if a magnet pulls them towards this person. They had many of the same values and interests and the relationship offered an opportunity to grow. There was a deep sense of peace and feeling like they were home with this person. All of these connections I was told about seemed to fall apart. It was too intense in many cases and one or both of the partners could not handle the connection. What is this and why do I keep hearing stories about these connections? If two people feel all of this love for one another why can't they just be together?

 I have a few theories about this. The main lesson I do feel one can take from a connection like this is allow yourself to grow from it and live to your highest potential. This type of relationship seems like the ultimate trap for co-dependence as if you stay in it, you may just want to completely rely on the other person for your happiness. You see the trap here? This intense connection can stifle you as you need the attention and love of this person to actually feel good. Perhaps these types of connections are  intense so you can start to feel love for yourself. The love the other person feels for you in this connection makes you realize that you are actually lovable and worth something. You begin to value your strengths as this other person shined a light on them. Even if he or she left you, there was this deep feeling of unconditional love and now you can learn to love yourself in this same way. 

The trap of co-dependency is actually this feeling that someone else can complete you when in fact only you can complete yourself. You can heal on you own and even in a relationship, the other person cannot heal you. They may project their issues on to you but they cannot heal you. This is why most people marry someone similar to a parent. We learn love from our parents and even the most well meaning parents often pass down unhealthy patterns related to love. 

My feeling is the most satisfying relationships are with people who accept and love you but allow you to grow. The intensity is low but the companionship high. The take away is that even if you are in  a relationship, you can only heal yourself. Following are some tips to feel whole. 

- Work with a therapist to uncover unhealthy childhood patterns and views on love. What is your internal template of love? This is often passed down through generations. How did you relate to your parents? How was their relationship?

-Spend some time in meditation every day in order to get connected to your true self. This will help you tap into your intuition and guide you.

-Practice acceptance of your process and knowing that wherever you are is ok. This works well with recovery from addiction as you are sitting with your emotion instead of judging yourself.

-Practice self-care. What does this mean? Ask yourself how you harm yourself each day. This can come in form of working too many hours, saying yes when you mean no, settling for unsatisfying work etc.. In short, do things that make you feel good every day without guilt.

-Write out the characteristics and attributes of your ideal partner. 

- Lastly, think about societal beliefs that hold you back. For example, "I need to marry young to be happy. "

" I can only be happy and fulfilled in a relationship." Examine the impact of these thoughts and try to replace them with more positive thoughts.

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