The Thing About The Codependent Dream…

By Marlena Tillhon, MSc.

When I grew up, I believed that love would heal me, that being in a relationship would do that for me.

I believed that, one day, an amazing human would cross my path and make it all better.

Of course, I knew that they weren’t going to be perfect.

I didn’t think I was naive enough to believe in ‘The One’.


I accepted that there would be challenges we’d have to face. I knew we’d annoy each other at times. I understood that life wasn’t going to be the ‘Happily Ever After’ out of a Disney movie.

But I saw us tackling life together.

A united front, madly in love, always choosing each other, feeling absolutely unbreakable.

Then I experienced the reality of the relationships I co-created. And they broke me.

Well, I guess I felt broken already but the relationships I found myself in didn’t help me to feel any different about myself. If anything, they confirmed my worst fears.

That I wasn’t lovable because whoever I was with and I weren’t unbreakable.

I couldn’t trust them.

They didn’t treat me well.

I didn’t feel safe or secure.

And I certainly wasn’t the best version of myself either.

It was all a mess.

Not a dream at all.

My fairytale didn’t come true.

I was, in fact, living the codependent nightmare.

In the name of love, I was putting up with behaviours that were not only disrespectful but incredibly harmful and damaging.

Out of fear of being alone, I stayed no matter how horrible the relationship got.

I numbed my feelings and denied any of my desires or needs.

I existed and went through the motions.

For love, I thought.

I needed to keep my dream going, not realising that I was trapped in a nightmare of my own making.

Because if I could make that dream come true, then I’d feel happy, healed and whole.

Only then.

But I was wrong.

I kept myself trapped in that cycle for years. Decades. 

My choices, my actions and my inactions were all based on one big lie: that I would be saved in a relationship.

While sacrificing myself for it. 

Wasting my time.

Disrespecting myself.

Not living my dreams.

But always hunting for someone to love me.

Because I hadn’t learned how to love myself.

I’m going to be honest with you … I had to hit rock bottom to let go of the codependent dream.

I had given it my all.

I had sacrificed more than I ever thought I would be willing to sacrifice.

I had made mistake after mistake and I was left with more regret than I knew how to bear.

I knew that in order to go on, to actually change my life and how I felt about myself, I had to stop repeating this pattern.

I needed to stop harming myself in all of these ways that never led to love but only to more pain and sorrow.

So I made a choice.

I gave up my codependent dream.

And for the first time in my life, I chose myself.

And that’s when everything changed.

By Marlena Tillhon, Codependency & Relationship Expert, Psychotherapist & Self-Actualisation Coach. I invite you to outgrow codependency by reconnecting to yourself, expressing your truth and healing at the deepest level so that you can finally create the relationships you long for and get the love you need. You can work with me directly or choose one of my programs and courses. Learn more about my 1-1 container at

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