You're listening to Voices of Your Village. This is episode 169. In this episode I got to hang out with Courtney Berg. We dove into the topic of codependency. This is something that so many of us grew up with and frankly. I didn't even realize I had grown up with it until way down the road and I just found myself doing things like people pleasing or feeling nervous to set and hold boundaries for myself or practice self-care. I found myself nervous about what other people thought of me and really seeking others approval. As I dove into this work. I started to realize that these were markers of codependency and so much of this comes from our childhood and for me raising this tiny human now, it was imperative to me that I started to really dive into this and write new patterns so that when this kiddo is growing up we can navigate this relationship in a different manner. I wanted them to know that I will always be there to support them and that we are two separate humans, that my happiness and feelings are not dependent on them because what a responsibility that is. I wanted them free to be themselves, to express themselves and move through the world with empathy and mindfulness of others and also fully themselves. It was such a joy to hang out with Courtney and to dive into this topic. Will you do me a favor? Will you take a screenshot of you tuning in come post it over on Instagram and stories and tag @seed.and.sew and let me know your favorite take away. I want to hear what stood out for you and what you want to dive deeper into. I love hearing your feedback from the episodes. All right folks. Let's dive in.
Welcome to Voices of Your Village, a place where parents, caregivers, teachers and experts come to support one another on this wild ride of raising tiny humans. We combined decades of experience with the latest research to create the modern parenting village. Let's dive into honest conversation about real parenting challenges, so it doesn't have to be this hard. I'm your host, Alyssa Blask Campbell.
Hey everyone, welcome back to Voices of Your Village, today I get to hang out with somebody that I love following over on the gram and now get to meet in real life, which is funsies. I get to hang out with Courtney. Hi Courtney. How are you?
Good. How are you?
I am doing pretty well. Yeah. I'm jazzed to dive into some codependency discussion today.
Yeah. Can you share with our village a little bit about your background and kind of what brings you here?
Yeah, so I'm I'm a wife. I'm a mom. I live in South Florida. I have four children. I write, I research, I'm back in school. I wear a couple different hats but you know, I've connected with a lot of people like yourself via Instagram who have similar philosophies and beliefs. And yeah, the community is kind of grown which is fun and just here learning alongside and everybody else, you know.
Yeah, when I read your bio and was like, oh just casual, four babies, getting a PhD at Harvard, like it's just throwing, I was like, oh, yeah casual, writing your first book...
It’s lack of sleep. I think I'm not thinking clear.
Oh, that's funny. So when we were we were looking for like who's the right person to chat with about codependency your name came up in our slack channel quite a few times and a bunch of our team follows you and so I wanted to just kind of kick start with some basics of like, what is codependency? Like it's a term that we're talking more about but it's thrown around in a lot of different ways.
Yeah it is and I find that people get a little overwhelmed with it because it sounds like such a big meaty word. But really how I like to think of codependency is it's just an excessive reliance or like almost an obsession with somebody in relationship. And so we start to, you hear a lot lose yourself, you know, what does that mean, lose yourself and we see it often when relationships aren't balanced. But I think as a parent/child relationship that can be even more confusing because it's not balanced right like the mom and dad are taking care of the child or the caregivers' taking care of the child, but overall in a nutshell. Codependency is going to be that you know, you go from an interdependent, where there's healthy clear boundaries and an understanding and a mutual respect to codependent where there's a lot of enmeshment maybe some lack of boundaries or no boundaries and it just gets very confusing and a lot of anxiety can stem from it.
Yeah for sure. That was my personal experience was like a lot of anxiety run codependency. I refer to myself often as like a "recovering people pleaser" where I would at this point identify as having like, I have a lot of codependent like tendencies and it's definitely something that I grew up with and it was referred to as me being such an empath and I was just so empathetic and almost as like a positive thing and then I found myself in spaces where I wasn't able to set and hold boundaries for myself and I would give of myself until there is nothing left to give. Or I would need the other person to be regulated in order for me to be regulated. Yeah and woof, I mean the more time goes on the more like that just gets harder and harder to do because the humans around me weren't always regulated. And so that was so dysregulating for me.
Right, and that's what happens. That's how we basically inherit these patterns of behavior because we repeat what we don't repair and so if we see it in a caregiver if we see lack of regulation if we see, you know, we're unable to practice that skill, right? Because you know as a parent, you know, you're newly or not newly pregnant, but you know, you're late pregnant, but you'll you know, it's it definitely can trigger some old wounds where we're like, whoa, that is an area I didn't really get to practice, you know, and so we learn very quickly that the areas that we aren't well-versed and because of the way we were brought up not to say that our parents were bad people, but they're just human people, you know and and we don't really know what we need to work on until we're kind of backed into a corner and so for a lot of adults, they're just wounded children that weren't really able to have that safe space to practice that co-regulation and then the cycle continues and so instead of healing or pausing and looking at that, we kind of then shame and blame and force certain skills from our child when they're not able to do it, you know. And then that's how that, that kind of waterfall effect happens.
Totally and I feel like I grew up in a house where I was responsible for co-regulation as the child because when I think when the adults don't have the self-reg skills like that falls on the kid to co-regulate and to be like, okay. I need to be calm or I need to, if I bring this thing to them it's going to dysregulated them right?
Right, and that's what you had said to earlier is like a lot of codependent, I don't like to call them "codependent people" I think we all carry these behaviors with us. It's not necessarily who we are. It's kind of just some of the things that we do to manufacture a sense of safety and control in our life. And so when we feel that we are being codependent it's because we actually want to connect with people, we want to make them happy. We want to feel loved and accepted and so none of that stuff is bad, you know, but like you said it does kind of ignite these skills of then "people pleasing" and we are afraid to say no or we are afraid to speak up about you know what we need. And so, you know, and then again it kind of just trickles down to every area of our life.
Totally and I think when, the challenger when we're looking at this in parenthood I think is that like infants come out the womb codependent, like they need us to survive and the transition, I guess from like codependent, I guess I see it as like a spectrum of like independence and codependence and my goal isn't one of either. I mean, I think it's all a spectrum. Even when we're looking at, you said like a you wouldn't identify someone as a codependent human, I think again it's a spectrum of like, where do you fall on this scale like needing codependency vs or relying on codependency.
When I think that it's you know, very common to have that black and white like well if I'm not I actually had somebody recently say "Well if I'm going to heal from codependency that I'm just going to be independent and not do anything at all." And there's actually something called interdependence, you know, which is you know, just very clear boundaries, you know where I end and you begin for example with parenting, you know, we have to get clear on what our boundaries are in our own life because that's how we model that and we give permission to our children and with gentle parenting and this movement. It's been really beautiful to see because we're now understanding that children are human beings with needs. Right? Like they have ideas and thoughts and they're actually really able to say no, they have limits and and you know, we see that but over time as caregivers we aren't comfortable with honoring those limits because we never had those limits honored in us, you know, and so, you know interdependence is just that clear understanding of boundaries and also, like a clear understanding that my needs will be met regardless of my behavior that I am loved and accepted even when I do act out, that it isn't conditional, you know, a lot of us grew up and we felt that, we had to behave a certain way to get what we needed from our caregiver and so interdependence then is the goal but you'll find that we often kind of, the pendulum swings from oh gosh codependent, I still have like the traits kind of, you know, they come up in relationships and experiences and then independent, where I want to isolate and say oh, this is just too much, because being in relationship with people is hard whether it's a 2-year old or your marriage or whatever.
Yeah for sure and it's interesting with the gentle and like respectful parenting movement. I think there are so many rad things about it and I think you're right that were finally honoring children as, I refer to them as tiny humans because they're humans and I think we're seeing that, I also see though like the lack of boundaries from parents for our own needs for that like, it's like okay their whole humans and we can like two things can be true here that like I can set boundaries for myself to support them, just the other day someone reached out. I had posted something about how if you are dysregulated, a dysregulated adult can't regulate a dysregulated child, and that if you are too dysregulated to be in their presence and they're safe, you can step away to calm your body and come back and it definitely brought up some abandonment wounds for some folks and there was this fear of like I can't step away, what's gonna happen if I step away? And so that's one area. I think within the like gentle respectful parenting community that's still a challenge, is this net it's almost like a pendulum swing from maybe we were raised where only the adults needs were brought into play and like kids were ignored or we weren't seen a full humans and now this swing of the pendulum to like kids are full humans, but I'm not taking care of my own needs.
Yeah. Yeah it is and I think too I I know from my own experience when I had to take time out for myself, right like with my firstborn. She's now five and a half. We we didn't I didn't know anything about gentle parenting I was like newly sober and I was starting my own inner healing work and I was doing the timeouts right? Like she's one she sits for one minute. She's two she I mean, I've heard that and it seemed like it worked and you know, I was spanked and put in timeout and so I just thought well that's and I'm fine
Yeah. Yeah, I worked out, I'm fine. And so I did that and I realized over time it wasn't working and it was also like I was spiraling in shame. I was like it's not working, I feel disconnected from my child. She doesn't understand what we're doing. This isn't working, it doesn't make sense. And so I found that it really was hard for me to sit in the space of her tantruming and her needing me but me also having to tap out for a minute. And so going back to what you said about that abandonment feeling is, I feared that if I took a moment for myself that she would then have that same narrative that I carry, which is you can't handle me when I'm blowing up because you're walking away. But what I've since, I rewrote that belief in my mind. I'm actually allowing her that skill so I can say to her if you get to a moment where you need a minute, we can always come back to this and she knows that now she'll say to me. I need space. I need a minute. I need to go over here and breathe and so I wasn't abandoning her if anything I was honoring her and that moment and myself, right? Like that's that interdependence that we can do both. Like I'm going to lose my temper. This is bringing out the person I don't want to be right now. Mommy needs a minute. I'm going to be right here to keep you safe. But I have to breathe and guess what? She does that now right like, okay. Y'all are making me a little cuckoo. We need to take a second. We'll come back to this and it and it's been a really cool like human experience and it gives language to something that sometimes you know, two, three, four year old doesn't know and when they see Mommy do it and she comes back more collected and more clear and we can kind of cohabitate in that moment. It's really cool. You know, it's really cool and I'm like, oh, so I'm not abandoning her. I'm actually giving her this gift of how to regulate in a human moment. Where we're heated and we’re under each other's skin in and it's scary and overwhelming, you know, and she can take that and go I can breathe. I can take a second, I can walk away from this and come back when I'm when I'm better regulated and so flipping that you know rewriting that belief for me has been been really helpful.
Totally. I mean you're modeling it.
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Yeah, that's huge. We had a dad who reached out recently and he attended one of our like free webinars and it was on regulation and coping and he reached out and he had been doing bedtime and it got to like a place where no one was winning. Everyone is dysregulated and he put their tiny human in the crib. He was like, and he reached out, he's like I didn't do it right and he was like, I just put them in the crib and I left and I calmed and I came back. And then we moved forward and I was like first of all, there's no like "doing it right" but also yeah you put that human in a safe space so that you could be a safe space for them. And you aren't right now a safe space for them.
You're not and they feel that energy of like us getting irritated and we're tired. I mean the end of the day is the hardest right? We're all tired. We're all hungry. We're all done with looking at each other. Like it's, we're done. You know, that's why there's night time we all get a break. You know and I'll tap out. I'll go to my husband. And thankfully I have a partner that's home and able to be hands-on. I know that's not the case for everybody but I'm able to say "You're up" and he knows what that means now because Mommy is getting to the end of herself and it's not going to be pretty for anybody because we've done it right but instead of sitting in that and feeling ashamed I now know to how to ask for help and say I got to go take a shower like or I haven't eaten. I need you to go in and take over and that's what we do, but I know that that's not always the case, so kudos to that Dad for saying you know what they're going to be fine for five minutes. I need to go get a glass of water because I'm human and I'm tired and I don't have to be perfect. But I can alter how this goes in this moment by making a smart choice, you know.
Totally it's so hard to access in the moment. What are some signs that you might be in a pattern of codependency? Like how do we build awareness around that?
Yeah, I think a couple of the top things that we've already kind of talked about is you just, you can't say no, right? So codependency. I talk a lot about boundaries and when you lack boundaries or you're afraid to set a boundary and no being probably the top one. I think that's easiest, somebody calls and they need your help and you can't say no. You're the first one there. You're the last one to leave your over overly available overly serving because again, like you said, you're an empath, you're helping, they need you, whatever so you can't say no, those people pleasing behaviors I think is the top one, especially for women, you know, we are the servant of the family so to speak, you know, we put ourselves last and and I think to just our communication skills. I think it's really really hard to to advocate for your own needs. I think when you become a parent it might be a little bit easier to say "Ooh, I want to help them. I want to stand up for them." But that first starts with us and advocating for our own needs. And then I think the last big red flag, I've found just in doing my own work and some of my own workshops is, you know, we tend to victimize ourselves. And so we get into this cycle of I'm the helper, doer, saver, fixer or and when somebody doesn't show me ample appreciation for my helping, doing, fixing, you know, whatever or if I'm not getting the pat on the back or you know the credit I deserve because I did all of this then I'm going to now withdrawal and be angry and hurt like because I'm always the one doing and fixing and saving and nobody ever gives me what I deserve. Right? And so everybody, so there's like this blame game we do and you see it in motherhood right like martyrhood. We are martyrs. We've given our lives away for the sake of our children's happiness, even though if you ask the child, they're not very happy, you know, and so I think that that's a big one as well. I think you know, you know unable to say no, poor communication skills, they don't even know what they want because they've lived a life of doing what others want and then blaming and victimizing and they're stuck in this cycle of resentment and bitterness because they've been spread so thin you know, and it's because of codependency.
Yeah. Gosh, it all resonates, it's like so much work that I've had to do and it's like ongoing where I was just having a conversation with one of my best friends the other day who they were trying to get out the door her husband was taking her oldest to school and they couldn't find the oldest like favorite mask, like covid mask and he's like where you know, where is it? Do you know where it is? Blah blah. And then she hit the end of her rope and was like, well you might know where it is if you ever did the laundry, if you ever put them away, if you ever... right? Like she was in that space of victimhood of, I'm the only one who does this. Yeah. And so now you don't know where it is and that's annoying like at the end of her rope and I think so many of us fall into these patterns often were, yeah, you're right, especially women I think culturally and historically we, it has been our duty to serve to make sure all the things in the household are happening to do all the child rearing etcetera. And as we're moving away from that generationally, there's a lot of other stuff that we got to navigate in order to make that shift happen.
Yep. Yeah, it's true. Yeah.
What does it look like then when you're like starting this maybe people are tuned in they're like yep, just checked all those boxes you just listed Courtney. What does it look like to start to set those boundaries and really be in that discomfort of setting those boundaries in order to move away from codependency and into it like a more healthy pattern. I'm thinking right now in like partnership, especially.
Yeah. I think there's a couple things that come up when you ask that question and you hit on it the discomfort of it I think the first thing is, well for me I'm learning to look at my beliefs underneath my behavior. Right? So if we don't, behaviors just the tip of the iceberg, we all know this with the regulation world. And so if I'm looking at my own behavior, and that's the tip, I've got to look at the belief that's telling me how to act. Okay, and so if I believe that I'm not allowed to ask for help or if I believe that I have to earn my place in a friendship or relationship or if I believe that 'Mommy' does at all because that's what my mom did then I have to really get clear on that. And so looking at those beliefs will help me kind of become more aware of my behaviors and then asking myself is this a belief that I want to continue believing and if it's not then I'm going to swap it out for something else and I write about this in my, I'm working on that book that you mentioned and talking about like, hey, we've got to get clear on this because we are behaving from these beliefs and then the second is okay, that doesn't work for me anymore. I'm going to rewrite something new and maybe for as a mom we'll just use for the example. You know, I'm allowed to ask my husband to do that laundry, right that that example. Hey, honey, and and most men, partners, whatever are willing to help, they cannot read your mind. They want to make you happy. They're married to you. They don't want to live with somebody that's pissed at them all day. Right like and so I've found that my husband cannot still read my mind. And so I have to say can you start the lunches for tomorrow because he is willing and able but he just isn't quite, he doesn't see it. He doesn't have "mom vision" right? Moms know the order of 300 things that need to happen, like okay wash needs to go in the dryer. I've got a clean out the backpacks, they need $4.82 cents for pizza this Friday like the list is endless. And so what can I delegate off to my partner so that I'm happier and he's happy helping me and getting more comfortable and in tune to that and so like you said, there's discomfort with that practice because what comes up for us is, I'm supposed to be the one doing it all. But me doing it all isn't working. Like we're not happy. And so I think if you're to start this work, I think that it's getting clear on the beliefs behind what you're doing and then being willing to ask for help and to say no because that cycle is going to continue happening if we're not more clear on the boundaries we need to set in our own lives like the limits that we have, you know, and for me, like you said that friend that passive-aggressive thing, it's really common. We feel that bubbling up, that resentment and that annoyance and so when we feel that we have to say to ourselves, I need to hand something off. I need to ask for help. I need to say no, right? Like that's how I better love my people and show up in this life with with joy and how I show my children that you have limits and you can say no and this is how we collaborate as a family, you know, like maybe it's time to get the kids involved with the laundry and it doesn't get hung up right, last night my three-year-old and five-year-old we were putting their clothes away and they don't always like doing it and they've got a basket of clothes and it doesn't always look pretty in their closet. But you know what like we're building character here and we're building responsibility and and I don't always like sitting there on the ground like handing them a hanger and like, you know, whatever. Sometimes it's just better for me to just do it. But then I am annoyed and I'm rushed and then they missed the skill, you know, and so we have to get clear on these things. And I think that's a that's a great place to start for people.
Totally. I think that's huge and one of the things that I found, we had like a come to Jesus chat like hmm, probably like six years ago now, my partner and I. Where I had found that I was in that space of like default human taking care of, keeping track of all of of the information and I had gotten to a place where I could ask for help but I was annoyed that he didn't also see all the things that went into taking care of the household. I was like, you live in this household and how do you not see these things? Like how do you think these things are happening? Yeah, or I just didn't I didn't want to constantly be like, okay, here's what here's what it takes to take care of the household. Here's what I need you to do or can you help me with this and for me something I like needed and that was so grounding for us as partners. We like sat down and I was like, here's everything that I do daily, weekly, monthly, etc that keeps the household running. Please throw what you do on here and there ended up being a lot of stuff that I didn't recognize like he was also doing behind the scenes.
And once it was like we literally put it into a spreadsheet to be like, here's everything that happens to run our family and I said like I'm feeling overwhelmed with all of my tasks and I don't want to keep being like hey, could you grab groceries this week? Like I need to figure out what's going to be yours to take on what's going to be mine. And that has ebbed and flowed in different seasons, you know in first trimester when I was really sick. He did all of the cooking that we used to share, you know, it's ebbed and flowed, but at this point he knows like what it takes to run our household and I don't have to be the one who keeps track of all that information and delegates, and it's something that I think is constantly evolving because things change and all that jazz, but that was hugely helpful for me because even being the delegator was driving me nuts.
Well it, right because not only are we, we're looking at all the tasks and we're managing it. But now we also have to tell you like I have to tell one more human in my house what to do? Like, it's I'm done like I want a partner and I want somebody that can see it but I had to tell myself and they talked about this in sobriety a lot. Like do you want to be right or do you want to be happy and so kudos to you again for like hey spreadsheet it or whatever works for you, for me. I was like honey, I need you to make breakfast. I cannot make one more meal. You can make eggs. You can make a frozen waffle. You can make a smoothie and every day, guess what he gets up, and that's what, and he loves it. And what I realized is, it's actually poured into our marriage because he wants to be my partner. He
doesn't want to be somebody just kind of like being drug along like he likes having tasks that he can take ownership over and and he likes seeing his wife happier and and lighter and so I find that when women or men or partners or whatever, whoever's listening, I just use my own example, but you know when we take on more than we are meant to, when we you know in the Bible in scripture talks about being evenly yoked for a reason. It doesn't work when you are pulling more than you are meant to pull and so I found that I've been able to bless my husband by giving him these tasks that he can take ownership over and then pour into our family. But if I'm taking everything from him and then berating him in the process, I mean, you know, there's that quote you've heard and you can talk about it with a marriage or with children, but nobody's come out from beneath somebody's criticism a better person, right? Like that's that victimization roll again. I either need to get vulnerable enough and clear enough on what I can delegate or let go of or I need to just start, you know being clear with myself on hey, I'm not going to be able to handle all of this and also enjoy my life. Like it's one or the other, you know, some stuff does need to just be let go like sometimes guess what my kids don't always have their hair brushed before school. I've got to let go of that, you know, it's okay doesn't make me a bad mom, right? So there's certain things. I've learned to let go of but overall I think that you're right when you say that like, you know getting clear, like delegating it and looking at that spreadsheet and saying hey this is what I need you to do and that that's vulnerable work because we don't like to feel like we can't do it by ourselves.
For sure and it's hard because I had to relinquish control of how it would be done or when it would be done. And that's challenging too, it almost can be like I'll just do it myself because I will do it the way that I want it done and then again I'm back in that cycle of I'm annoyed with you that I'm doing it. And yeah, it was a huge part of like the letting go for me was building awareness around like when he is doing it and I'm still annoyed with him what's coming up there and so much of it for me was control around how or when it would happen too.
Well when we have that control. It reminds us that we are safe, even though it's a manufactured safety and that goes back again to that childhood and those early formative relationships where if we have to become the parent because our parent isn't well or they're going through a divorce or there's addiction or mental health issues or whatever. We step into a role often that isn't ours and we lose that early childhood innocence and that that dependence on our caregiver. So now we are not only caregiving for ourselves but for adults and so it's easy then to like carry that trait into our adult relationships because again when you have control it might be done the way you want. But we're not happy, you know?
Yeah, I had to get down and dirty with like Alyssa, what's your real fear here? Like what are you afraid is going to happen if he hasn't done the dishes by this time where you would have done them? And I had to again get back to like vulnerability with Zach of being like man, I it for me, it's uncomfortable that the dishes are still in the sink when you said you would do them in and I'm afraid that I will wake up tomorrow morning and start my day with like that chaos like triggering my day and I, like it would be helpful for me if I could trust that there, I'm not going to wake up in the morning with that.
Right and even you being vulnerable enough to say that to him will probably switch gears for him. Right? Like when we know that that's actually what is causing distress in our partner like to be vulnerable enough to go down that thought pattern for ourselves like because it doesn't feel good for me to wake up to this and that be the first thing I have to do like I like waking up and having my coffee and a clean kitchen then they're like, oh, okay. It's not just you getting on me for one more thing. This is a thing that really bothers you and that's why you know, and again they want you to wake up and have that morning moment or whatever, you know, but sometimes we don't we're on such autopilot that we don't take a minute to really uncover. Like what is this really bringing up for me. Like what is it triggering in me? You know?
Totally, totally it takes time and intention and you don't always have it. I think another thing that I found in like really working towards interdependence in really boundary setting, one that just came up. I it is that like after I set a boundary or I figure out like what my need is ETC the other people will still have opinions or thoughts and that can bring up more triggers like I was sharing that somebody was asking about our child care plans etc. And yeah, I would like to have two to three days of childcare when I'm going to be going back to work and I'm going to be going back part time etcetera and this person right out the gates was like, oh, wow, I didn't realize you'd be going back so much and that like "so much". Oh God. It just like came into my heart and I grew up with a stay-at-home mom who sacrificed all the things. So that she could be home with us and my master's is Early Childhood. I have supported so many other humans in raising their kids. And so I had all these things coming up around like I'm not supposed to this. I'm supposed to be home with this kid and by choosing work and choosing me and choosing what will fill my cup here. I'm doing a disservice to this child. I'm not choosing them right like those things which it was like immediate rush and on the surface was really like anger and like the patriarchy and no one would say that to my husband right? Right like the fire right?
And you're right. You're still right, you know.
But I like for me that's the hardest part of boundaries is recognizing that once you, setting them is hard, deciding what figuring out, like what was going to be filling for me and that I know that I don't thrive when I don't have an outlet for myself, that I will show up as a better parent when I have something like outside of being a stay-at-home parent that like that's just not the way that I thrive and knowing that and being okay, getting clear about that, figuring out what's right for me or for our family unit, but then actually putting it into practice and recognizing people are going to have comments and it's going to bring up all this stuff for me like is so hard.
It is and I've found too like whether it's how much you work or how much you don't work or breastfeeding or formula or food or school.
All the things.
It's just like whatever it, when you feel that, those triggers, also helps you get really clear on what where your values and your philosophies are like you said as a family. Like to uncover okay that just really triggered me, but what matters to me and my family is that I get these couple, and that could change, you know in six months you might only want five days of work and you might want one day of work and you, I mean mine has ebbed and flowed over the five and a half years and that's okay and then also like realizing that like an emotional boundary for me is that I don't have to pick that up. Right? Like I don't have to respond to that text or that that comment that somebody said like I don't have to, and this is the self boundary, this is the self work. I don't have to show up for this. You know, like I don't have to explain or justify and I can do that trigger work in myself. Right? Like I can see what that brought up for me, but for me to convince them that I'm worthy of three days of work or that that's what works for me and I'm actually a better mom or I can change my mind in six months and I still don't have to prove a point is happiness and freeing for me, you know, and and I think too being aware that like the choices I make often bring up stuff for other people, like maybe they wanted to work three days and can't or they don't have the skill set to work through that belief that like, I have to be a full-time mom to be a "good mom" right? Like and so giving compassion and empathy there and space for people to work through their own stuff. But hey, that's not mine to fix, you know, like and seeing that in the moment is really hard but I've had those experiences where you know, I just give us some space and I take a couple days and I realize oh, that's not mine. That was something that came up for them and and something came up for, and these are these little quick human experiences. Right? Like you said, it was just one little sentence and then there it goes so much.
So much, it was two words.
Like what do you mean so much? Am I working too much? I love my kid. I mean I haven't met them, but this is my like, and then our brain starts going and that's okay. You know, it's okay to feel all that stuff that it brings up. But to realize that like on an emotional boundary level like that doesn't have to be mine to carry for them and I don't and they don't have to carry my stuff. Right? Like I don't have to prove anything.
Yeah. Well, I think that that's a good point to note that like by trying to prove something. We're almost pushing our stuff onto them to carry.
We are, and we're actually, what we're doing when we try to prove something is we're asking for validation. We're asking for approval. And so then we're still stuck in that people-pleasing like am I accepted? Do you approve, do you like it? And we're humans that are adults now that have to do like big girl things which is making choices that sometimes don't end well, but that's okay because I'm learning to trust myself going back to that codependency. You don't know how to trust yourself. You've always relied on someone else to fulfill a void in you and it's not worked you know, like hey, I'm allowed to do this, right? Hey, what do I want? What are we eating? Right like there's never been an "I" there's always been a "we" and it's very hard to then make choices that are best for me and maybe not you whether it's a friend that maybe doesn't understand that you're going to work "so much" or maybe it's a partner or maybe it's a child. Hey, I'm going to work out for an hour. You're going to be fine with Daddy. Mommy needs this, right doesn't make me a bad mom. You know, but it's working through those those different things that come up. But yeah, it's challenging for sure.
Totally and I think it's so powerful for kiddos to see too that like even if they are upset that you're going to go work out or that you're going to work and they're going to childcare or whatever is happening that when we stick to that and allow them to have those feelings that they're allowed to feel upset. They're allowed to feel disappointed that we aren't there and it doesn't mean that we don't take care of ourselves right that like that modeling. That's what I want for my tiny human down the road is to know it's okay for this other person to be upset and for me to take care of myself.
Totally like setting a boundary when somebody reacts whether it's our child, a friend, a co-worker whatever we think that their reaction means we did something wrong. Okay, that's that old script of like I'm supposed to keep them happy and when they're not, I did something wrong, but the reality is when I set a boundary that I need to help me feel safe and help me feel whole and happy and refuelled or whatever and then they react I can look at that and observe it and honor and say gosh that's hard for you in this moment. I understand that and I'm still going to go, you know, like for example share a personal story like last week my husband and I were able to get out for dinner and my 5 year old was not having it and it was hard because it was a long day and I got dressed and I was going out and that doesn't happen often anymore. And I said, you know, and she I don't want you to go. I don't want you to go and I was able to hold space for her in that moment and Daddy and I are still going out to dinner, you know, like I can be here for you in this moment and I will come back but she needs to see that Mommy and Daddy can have special time to you know, and hopefully one day she'll value that in her own relationships where hey, I'm allowed to be somebody different than just your mommy, you know, but in the past in the first couple of years of being a mom it would it would wreck me, I wouldn't want to go on a date. I wouldn't want to be away from her. I would have felt like I was ruining her, you know, and that's that codependency that runs deep in my veins of like her being unhappy means that I'm a bad mom and reality is she's just having an unhappy moment, you know, and I have to look, I have to to pan out and look at the bigger picture, the bigger concepts which isn't always easy to do either, you know.
Totally and I think it's a cornerstone of secure attachment.
A hundred percent.
We often confuse those that like if I go we won't be securely attached and instead we're saying I can hold space for you to have these feelings and take care of myself, we can be separate humans and you're not in trouble for having hard feelings. I'm not mad at you for having hard feelings. You're allowed to have them and I don't need to make them stop for my comfort.
Yep. Yep, and we see that, we see that when kids have a hard time that it makes us uncomfortable. And so then we want to extinguish that out of them instead of being able to do both and it kind of brings it full circle what you said originally about the abandonment that people feel in those moments like we carry a lot of our own narratives from our childhood into our parenting when it's a new experience and I do it too. I'm like, I don't want them to think X. Well, I'm a 36 year old woman who's done a ton of work and this is a five-year-old who it's like a clean slate. I don't have to then attach that to every experience we have right like I can do it differently. And so I can again hold space for them in this moment while also giving myself a little breathing room so that I can show up in a more loving compassionate way whether you know, and that's again that emotional boundary in that getting really clear on that codependent narrative that we carry or those old beliefs that we carry of like. Hey a loving mom is a sacrificial mom that never has any goals or desires aside from her child, not true, you know or you know, a helpful friend is one that never says no, not true. You know, and these are, these behaviors that we have to go hmm, what's underneath that? What is the real belief that I'm, that I'm working off of here.
Totally. I think that so huge and I think like with that like the kiddo who's having the hard emotion and we want to fix it because we're uncomfortable. I think the message it actually sends is I can't handle your big feelings. I need them to stop for my comfort and it ends up being the opposite of our goal of secure attachment.
Yeah, and we think that if we get it to stop temporarily then they know how to like it won't happen again and what we're doing is we're actually just not allowing them that practice and it gets perpetually worse because we're just capping it, capping it. It's like a Band-Aid right? Like it's just not it's not being healed from the inside. They're not practicing that that language of hey, I need to take a breath. Hey, I'm getting upset. Hey, I need to have some quiet time alone or whatever that that is, you know, and so that temporary, yeah, you might get them to you know cooperate because they're afraid or they're you know just whatever, but the long-term benefit isn't going to be there.
Or temporarily soothed right? Versus like it's okay for me to feel scared or disappointed or frustrated.
Right, and it's like I had to have a real moment with myself of like I don't want my child to be afraid of me. Like I don't want them to be afraid of me so they behave in a way that makes me not embarrassed or makes me feel like a good mom. Like if I really like got clear on it, that's what I wanted as a new mom. I wanted them to not get us found out that we are not perfect. Don't do anything like that. You know, like don't be a two-year-old on the mall floor screaming outside of Pottery Barn because then everybody's going to know I don't know what I'm doing, right but I don't know what I'm doing because I've never been a Mom before so I'm learning with our kids. I mean, I don't know why moms feel like we know what we're doing when we first start being a mom like we don't, it's a new job. Like you have to do it.
You're not failing if your kids having a tantrum outside of Pottery Barn. They're having a feeling that they're allowed to have.
That they don't know what, they're scared. You know, like they're scared. I'm scared. It's a whole thing and we don't even go into Pottery Barn and then that's a thing. And so yeah, I mean a little side tangent there, but you know, I think that it's, you know, we're all doing this life thing together and to be able to do it with our children is really a blessing and an honor and it's a gift and I think that if we can approach that relationship with tenderness, you know in the same tenderness that we wish we maybe would have had in certain areas. You know, I think that we'll be better off long-term than getting that instant gratification of "oh see my kid's polite, oh see my kid has manners, oh see my kid never talks back to me, oh they never do that, if they would have melted down..." and I've heard it "if they would have done that I would have grabbed them so quick and" and I'm like, yeah and then what? Like yeah what you know, I wanted to connect with my kids, you know?
Totally well that's that narrative around like what it is to have a "good kid" or be a "good kid". Yeah, and so much of that is not having needs, not having hard emotions, not experiencing life outwardly.
And that's where the perpetuation of codependency is to be a "good kid" means to make mommy not feel uncomfortable to not you know, and then and then we pick up on that as kids, kids are so smart and they're like, "oh, okay. So if I act like this mommy is happy and wants to hang with me." And then that's that conditional love that gets really tangled up and we carry that with us, you know, and then we're not sure what love means then and what acceptance and belonging means.
Totally, so many rad nuggets in here, really this is awesome. Courtney where can folks find you, follow you, tap into your work.
Yeah. I'm on Instagram and Facebook Courtney J Berg and then I have my website. It's called mombojombo.org and there's tons of stuff. I've got old blog post there and I run some workshops and then I'll have my book coming out. Hopefully in the next 10 years, no I'm kidding, it'll be out 2030, no, I don't know. It's coming out, stay tuned.
That's awesome, we will link to all of that in the transcript. So if you're listening and you're on the go and you want to connect with Courtney or follow along highly recommend her Instagram, it's a Seed fav.
Yeah, people can find that at voicesofyourvillage.com. Courtney, thanks for hanging out with me.
Thank you. This is a real treat to my mommy morning.
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