you & me

Codependency as a Doorway to Healing.

I realized that I needed to heal something deep inside me when I was about 17 years old.

I began to devour self-help books and explore pathways that I thought may help me feel better inside.

I didn’t consciously know what was wrong, it was just a feeling. There was no one I could really talk to either. My parents didn’t have the time or way of thinking to be open to my inner problems. And therapy in 1980’s UK was not really an option either.

So, I carried on in my own way, trying to heal this enigma, this feeling.

I was eventually able to name the problem last year. Wow, what a journey I went on!

A journey that took me all around the world and involved domestic violence and drug abuse. A journey that included four sons and four step-children. A journey with gypsies and life on the road with a horse and cart. A journey where I learnt to farm in rural France. The list goes on…

So much searching. I did eventually realize that the journey I needed to go on was an internal journey. That no matter how many routes I took externally, nothing would change if I didn’t just stop and adjust my perspective.

I think I may be a slow learner, or at least a slow beginner.

It took me over 30 years of self-searching to be able to say that I was suffering from codependency. It felt so good finally to be able to name this thing I had been trying to get away from for so long.

Naming is an important aspect of healing any imbalance, disease or illness. Especially chronic ones. When we are able to give a name to something we have been living with, influenced by — even controlled by — for years, we are much nearer to being able to do something about it.

The secret, however, is not to stop there. Naming is an important step, but it is not the destination. I definitely did not want to stay here and define myself and become attached to this label.   

I am not saying that I hadn’t been healing things and working successfully on myself for all these years. It’s just that the core of the problem, the center of the wound, was so much a part of my being that it was kind of hard to see.

I think it was so much at the core that, like an onion, I needed to work on and remove all the layers that were covering the central problem. When I had done that, I was ready to dive into the abyss that is co-dependency.

“Among the core characteristics of codependency is an excessive reliance on other people for approval and a sense of identity.”

Although I couldn’t name my wound, my soul recognized it. My soul took me on the journey of recovery, even though I didn’t know what I needed to recover from.

And my soul very early on led me to nature and plant medicine, knowing that I needed something, somewhere where the relationship would be different. I wasn’t reliant on plants for approval. I knew they loved me and I loved them. With plants, I existed, I was safe, and I didn’t have to gain their approval. 

I am sure that plants, trees, animals and nature kept me alive. They kept a tiny inner fire burning. They met me at a place where I truly existed.

At the end of my journey of codependency, I had to struggle with deep, ingrained fears. I had to sever the relationships with people who had sniffed me out and whose lives depended on me giving them my life force. I had to stand strong in the torrent of their disapproval and love myself. 

It was terrifying because the nature of codependency is that you think you are going to die if you do not comply to the demands of those who want something from you. I had to face that feeling of dying, I had to traverse the fear.

And all the people whom I had danced with in this way came up for the final waltz. And each time, the Universe asked me to step through the fear and love myself no matter what they said. 

And I did.

And I realize now that I have come through to the other end. That whatever is out of balance in us, whatever is calling to be healed, needs to be made a priority. No matter how long it takes. This is because what is held in our unhealed wounds is our life force.

I realize that what I was giving away through the need to satisfy others and make sure they approved of me was my power. My power is my core. It is who I am. I was in fact giving myself away.

I am now seeing and feeling who I really am.

And the plants are responding. As I accept and step into my own, authentic power, I am entering into deep connections with more powerful plants.

Recently I have come into direct contact with the soul of a Solanaceae (nightshade family) plant. I do not want to share her name because she has come to me as a power ally and the names of those should not ever be shared.

She has come because I am ready for her.

“The solanaceae, when indicated, expedite the individuation of the soul, the advancement towards spiritual maturity. They embody the intense, all embracing love of the ‘Black Goddess’, the ‘Queen of the Shades’, whose sustaining power overshadows us when we finally face our Shadow in the ‘Dark Night of the Soul’.” ~ David Lilley

Now I can communicate and work with her because I am whole. I have faced my shadow and earned the right to dance around the fire with the elders.

***

Cathy Skipper is a French-trained herbalist, aromatherapist and teacher. She lives and works both in New Mexico and Europe. She guides healers and therapists in ways to heal their own wounds and find their personal myth in order to help others. Cathy believes, for men and women to embrace the Divine Feminine within, women need to lead the way. She is devoted to transforming the way women experience menopause. Using intuitive plant communication, art and inner journey work, she leads them through their own authentic inner journeys. Cathy is the author of two books, Aromatic Medicine and The Alchemy of Menopause. She is co-founder of the online school AromaGnosis with her husband Dr. Florian Birkmayer, where they teach courses such as Intuitive Plant Communication, The Wounded Healer, The Alchemy of Menopause, and more.

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