When You Choose Codependency, You Don’t Choose Love

By Marlena Tillhon MSc.

I used to think that I was good at relationships. Great even.

I was nice, generous, tolerant and forgiving.

I had lots and lots of friends.

Everyone liked me.

That’s good, right?

Well, not so much as it turns out.

Because it kind of was all fake and based on me inhibiting and sacrificing myself.

I didn’t see it like that at the time.

I was just being nice, right?

But when being nice harms you, it isn’t so nice anymore.

There is an agenda attached to it.

There was something I was trying to prove.

To others.

To myself.

In hindsight, I was a massive people-pleaser.

I just didn’t see it then because I only focused my people-pleasing skills on the people I liked. With others, I could be assertive and tolerate them not liking me. I guess that’s what threw me off.

Back then, I needed others to like me because I didn’t feel likeable.

I didn’t even like myself. So how could I trick others into liking me to make up for me not liking myself? Could they fill that void?

There were so many parts of me that I was in denial of or that I was suppressing with all my might.

And it’s not like those parts were horrible or bad in any way.

They were just human.

But I felt ashamed of them.

I didn’t believe that anyone could like me if they knew that I was like that.

And so I hid my feelings.

I hid when I felt uncomfortable or didn’t like something and instead got on with it.

I hid my true opinions and didn’t ask the questions that I thought others could use against me.

Maybe my needing a glass of water would be too much for them after all and then I’d get rejected … again.

I didn’t want to risk it.

And then, of course, there was the matter of my feelings.

I was allowed nice feelings. I was allowed fake-happy feelings. I was allowed sleepy feelings.

But that was it.

Feelings were out. They were embarrassing. They were shameful. And I didn’t want anyone to know that I had them.

Because I didn’t want to get shamed, rejected or physically violated for my feelings as I had done in the past. 

As far as desires or preferences go, let’s not even go there.

A good girl has no desires of her own.

A good girl desires whatever others desire and she provides it for them, politely, obediently and gracefully.

So that’s what I did.

And I thought that that was love.

I thought that that’s what made me good at relationships.

How much I wish I’d had lessons in healthy relating instead of chemistry at school!

I reckon that would have spared me a few decades of pain and trauma.

But I got there in the end.

Today, I can see that relationships and love are two separate things.

And codependent relationships couldn’t be further away from love.

Because love feels good.

In love, you matter.

In love, you feel. You desire. You meet your needs. You get to be you. And others love you for it.

In codependency, you don’t feel. You get shamed for it. 

You don’t need anything. You get left for that.

You don’t desire. You’re ridiculed for it. 

And not that it leads to anyone.

Because while love is full of light, joy and freedom, codependency stifles and suffocates us.

It makes us deny who we really are.

There is no acceptance in it.

While love is full of it.

You get to accept all of you.

Your feelings. Your desires. Your needs.

You get to accept yourself, embrace the human in you and grow to become more of you.

That’s a big part of the healing experience.

That’s what’s life-changing.

It’s not about learning how to say the right words to get others to like you or how to suppress your emotions better.

That’s not love.

Love wants you to express yourself and become more of yourself.

That’s how you heal. That’s how you grow. That’s how you love.

Yourself and others.

If it doesn’t feel like that, it isn’t love.

And codependency couldn’t be further away from love.

So choose love.


Every day.


With Love, Marlena.

In addition to being a regular contributor to the #1 Online Magazine For Codependency Recovery, Marlena is a Psychotherapist, Codependency Expert & Relationship Coach. Outgrow codependency by learning how to have a healthy relationship with yourself, healing old wounds, calming insecure attachment and developing healthy relationship skills so that you can finally create the relationship you long for and get the love you need. https://www.epiclove.me/revolution

1 Response

  1. Ms Lovely says:

    Marlena, I couldn’t have said it better. OMG! This is exactly how I felt all my life. When this pattern of living didn’t keep me safe anymore. I knew I had to do something. This way of thinking was disrupting all my relationships but when I started to see how it interfered with my kids and grands, I knew I needed HELP! I hated the way I felt, lonely, not good enough because I felt like I didn’t know enough to raise children. I didn’t trust myself, I always trusted others more. I was not living I was existing. I would love to work with you but I have two other help groups that I’m involved in and I want to be able to give my all so I can get the most from the teaching, Thank you so much for sharing. This was powerful!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *