The Life-Changing Insight That Helped Me Finally Break Free From Codependency

Traditional codependency literature has you believe that codependency usually emerges in romantic relationships.

We only become aware of it once we’ve had our hearts broken a few dozen times and leap from unhealthy relationship to unhealthy relationship.

In my personal and professional experience, codependency expresses itself through us in all areas of life and not just in our love lives.

It expresses itself most of all in the relationship we have with ourselves.

This is not something I was aware of when I first became aware of being codependent.

Back then, I thought that I was just very good at being loving, helpful and thoughtful.

I thought that I was very good at relationships but to me, that meant relationships with others.

I had no idea that I even had a relationship with myself!

And that was a relationship I was really bad at.

I wouldn’t have cared about that if I hadn’t made a different discovery that changed everything for me and it was this:

Everything is a reflection of the relationship I have with myself.


I was mind-blown at the time but soon came to see how true that realisation was.

I was complaining that my partner ignored my needs but even I didn’t meet my needs.

I was sad that my partner wasn’t interested in my feelings but I didn’t listen to the feelings that told me that this was not the right relationship for me.

I was frustrated that my partner didn’t seem to care about what I wanted but I didn’t care enough about what I wanted to move on and look for someone and something more suitable.

Soon, I started to use my daily frustrations to inform my healing journey.

If I found myself feeling unheard, I made a conscious effort to listen to myself more and hear what was going on for me.

If I felt unloved by my partner, I threw myself more proactively into learning how to love myself or sought out the company of loving friends and family.

If I felt ignored, I tried to find out what I wanted or needed and then learnt how to provide that for myself.

This wasn’t about depriving myself of outside help or support.

It was about me learning to empower myself and put myself in charge of what I wanted and needed without making that dependent on anyone else.

It was about me taking full responsibility for myself and the kind of life I wanted to create without basing it all around the needs, expectations and judgments of others.

It was about me removing the pressure I was unknowingly putting on my relationships and taking an adult role in them.

There were a lot of harsh truths I had to make room for and learn to deal with but every single one helped me shed more codependent layers that had kept me trapped in low self-worth, toxic relationships and settling for less than I wanted from my life.

As I shed those codependent habits and traits, I began to discover myself.

I began to understand what my feelings were trying to tell me and what actions they needed me to take.

I started to feel more connected to my needs and desires so that it became easy for me to make choices that were good for me and that felt right.

And for the first time ever, I thought about the kind of life I wanted to live outside of my relationships.

What did I enjoy?

What choices did I want to make if there was no one else to consider?

What other areas of my life did I want to focus on and develop more fully?

Developing this new part of my identity became fun and provided me with a greater sense of meaning and purpose that motivated me to take charge of my life.

Because that’s what it felt like I had missed out on the most: feeling in charge. Being proactive.
Creating my life intentionally. Making choices that were good for me consciously and assertively.

Letting go of codependency has helped me to reclaim all of that.

Today I know that so much more is possible when you stop seeing life and relationships through the lens of codependency.

And while you may feel powerless while you are caught up in codependent patterns, the truth is that you always have the power to break free so that you can emerge and finally be the person you know you are meant to be.

By Marlena Tillhon MSc

In addition to being a regular contributor to the #1 Online Magazine For Codependency Recovery, Marlena is a Codependency Expert, Psychotherapist & Self-Actualisation Coach. Outgrow codependency and heal the relationship you have with yourself to reclaim your worth, your life and your dreams. I invite you to join my latest program ‘Worthy, Lovable & Deserving’ to eliminate toxic shame and low self-esteem once and for all at

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