Hippies, Fawning & Codependency – Oh My!

By Susan Ball, Unapologetically You Mentor.

I was a hippie and I was ridiculed, teased, shunned, and put-down for the entirety of my adolescence. I loved the earth, trees, nature, animals, and all people. I was a free-spirit who loved hikes in the woods more than shopping at the mall. I wore flowers in my hair and I listened to an eclectic mix of music and poetry. I was a hippie and the abuse from my family was relentless.

Family gatherings, my sisters and their spouses would laugh and tell me they just killed Bessie in the field that morning and hoped I didn’t mind dead things on my plate – ha ha ha! They would grab my long hair, hold it up and ask me when are you going to grow up and cut your hair (not yet!). They told me to change my clothes if I was coming to their house, no flowers, no headbands, no patchouli oil, etc. My mother would introduce me to people and say she thinks she’s a hippie and roll her eyes. It was cruel. 

And because of their abuse, I quit being me. I gave up my authenticity. I hid my beloved hippie and adopted my “should” life, beliefs, and values. I quit me. I lost my voice. I gave up.

I fell into my best and favourite trauma response: Fawn.

People-pleasing and codependency are two of the key indicators of the fawn response. Because of the ongoing ridicule, I didn’t feel safe expressing myself. So, I became someone else in order to feel loved, accepted, and validated. To feel I belonged. To make my family happy. To get outside validation. To be noticed. To be accepted.

That same fawn response led me straight into 4-abusive relationships. How? Because I wanted to please, belong, feel love, and I would give away all of myself to achieve that. I would change and twist myself. I would silence my voice. I was terrified I would be left behind, abandoned, and ridiculed. I accepted “less than” simply because I believed I was not worthy of better. And the truly sad part was all of my relationships left me feeling depleted, hurt, desperate, unloved, unwanted, and scared.

As a result, my fawning and codependency grew, ruling my life and decisions. If I say no, they won’t like me. If I tell them I’m really a hippie, they will shun me. If I set a boundary, I will be abandoned. My coping mechanisms of people-pleasing and codependency flourished, slowly and deeply burying my true self. 

It was on my healing journey that I learned about trauma responses, codependency, and people-pleasing. I had no idea I had even experienced trauma or a loss of self!

Breaking your trauma response and it’s negative side effects is a huge part of your recovery. It’s where you see your patterns and have the a-ha moments. Learning about your patterns is the first step to changing how you see yourself.

Journal Prompts to Guide Your Self-Identity Exploration:

  • Reflect on who you are outside of your relationships with others. Write about your interests, values, and dreams that are solely your own. How can you honour and nurture these aspects of yourself daily?
  • Describe a recent situation where you felt compelled to please someone else at the expense of your own needs. How did it make you feel? What boundary could you set to protect your well-being in similar future situations?
  • Write a compassionate letter to yourself acknowledging the times you’ve resorted to people-pleasing as a coping mechanism. Offer yourself understanding and encouragement. How can you be kinder and more supportive to yourself in moments of stress?

When you begin your journey back to your true self, you shift your trauma response to a healthy, loving response, you discover and claim your wants, needs, and desires. It’s how you take your hippie back, own her, and proudly say her name when asked. You know you will not give her up ever again for anyone.

And that’s a beautiful thing!

Susan Ball is an Abuse Recovery Expert who works with women ready to free their voice, break the cycle, and live life unapologetically. You can begin your healing journey by downloading her free ebook “Falling in Love with Myself Again” https://sendfox.com/lp/1dd5kk

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