Homework for Codependents – A Letter to Your Younger Self
Part of recovering from codependency and self neglect is homework. Codependents and love addicts often find that they are a product of a shameful and neglectful childhood. A feeling of not being worthy of love follows us around because as children we were not shown love. We learned that love was conditional and based on our behaviour. A letter to your younger self is homework for codependents who have admitted that their childhood was unhealthy.
Because of the tendency for codependents to paper over shit, make everything OK and rescue we rarely can say “that was crap”. So it can take a very long time for us to say it. We cannot stand the pain it would cause our parents – we know they don’t need that so we keep it. There is a possibility we are wrong – we can’t cope with the shame of being a liar so don’t mention it. The list of reasons to deny a crap childhood is endless. There is only one reason to stand up and say you were wronged as a child….you. That counts as sticking up for yourself and valuing yourself and guess what? We are crap at that too!!!
Codependents and those who self neglect were never taught the fundamentals of loving and looking after yourself. They were most probably not loved, or not loved in a healthy way. These are valuable lessons as a child and leads the path into self neglect. If our parents do not value us, we do not value us. It does unfortunately lead the most vulnerable people into toxic relationships
Dear little E, hello sweetheart.
I am just writing you a letter as there are some things I need to tel you. I was worried about you on friday. You looked so upset I just wanted to cuddle you so tight and tell you everything will we OK E. You have always been such a strong little girl.
You looked after Stephen so well. You protected him from what you saw and heard from your stepdad. E you had those mothering instincts and Stephen loves you so much for that. I watched you when Nigel and mum would shout and bang things. Putting Thomas the Tank on for him if he was awake or taking him to the park to play, even sat next to him and stroked his hair to give him comfort and love. I think it gave you comfort too. I can see you now shaking with such fear on your face, wondering what escape to use if Stephen woke, your little head must have been working overtime.
Stephen was your world but you have to realise why you are who you are. You shake all the time because you are anxious. It is OK now but because of Nigel I know you are scared of him hitting you and and I am so sorry that I cannot explain why he did this to you. I know he did not like you because you were not his daughter and because you were a girl but it is OK.
It’s not your fault, sometimes people do not like other people and we do not know why. You must remember that your real daddy loved you so, so much very much. That smiley little cheeky bright blonde child, that missed dad so much. Remember what mum told you, he sits on Orion’s belt and there is a star that sits on your shoulder, which is dad protecting and watching over you! Look into the sky and he will be there listening to you and smiling back, sending his love.
When you are ready to write your letter to your younger self it is important you know what you missed as a child. Knowing what was missing enables you to give it. Tell them that it will be OK in the end, tell them you appreciate how strong they were. Tell them that you are who you are now because of what they went through. Good and bad. Regardless of how you feel about yourself right now, there is good there.
Other great homework exercises for codependents are found here