THE BLOG
09/06/2013 06:49 pm ET | Updated Nov 06, 2013

It's Never Too Late to Be Who You Might Have Been (Hope for Codependents)

We all come into this imperfect world, in imperfect families, as imperfect versions of ourselves. Not one of us is without a story or two about family dysfunction, economic hardships, medical limitations, self-esteem challenges and more. Through conscious choices, personal commitment and hard work, we all can experience the world as fully competent, secure, loving and loved individuals. With a fervent belief in ourselves and a commitment to becoming the very best version of ourselves, we can achieve our God-given right to experience joy and healthy love. Taking good care of yourself, healing your emotional wounds, and unconditionally loving yourself, will bring you closer to your dreams. My very favorite quote by George Eliot exemplifies the malleable and indomitable nature of the human psyche/human spirit: "It's never too late to be who you might have been."

As a survivor of some rather challenging relationships with emotional manipulators, I must say to the codependent readers there is most definitely hope for healthy love! I am living proof that if you make a commitment to a healing and transformational process, it is possible to squelch, if not completely stop, the dysfunctional voices that our emotional manipulator parents instilled in our minds. We all have the power to terminate the commanding unconscious force that compels us to replicate our childhood trauma through our choices of dysfunctional adult romantic partners. With the help of loved ones and qualified professional services, it is possible to heal those childhood wounds that have unconsciously directed you to "dance" with the same dysfunctional partner over and over again. (1)

I challenge the readers of my book to courageously commit to never giving up on yourselves -- to never again feel powerless in a relationship that is harmful to you. The choice to change, to release yourself from the shackles of your dysfunctional past and to stop your propensity to fall in love with an emotional manipulator might be the biggest and most important change that you will ever make in your life. Stopping your own personal insanity will take perseverance and courage. It will require dedication, diligence, endurance, patience and probably a stint or two of psychotherapy.

I am sharing the following poem because a long time ago, during a low point in my life, it inspired me to continue my own personal therapeutic work. It spoke to that part of my heart that yearned for true love, but was trapped by mysterious formidable and unconscious forces. David Whyte's poem, "The True Love," encouraged me to stay true to my pledge to heal and to never lose hope for "true love." His poem was the beacon of light that, in my personal darkness, kept me focused on my pursuit of love for myself and, ultimately, for a lover who would share the wondrous experience of true and healthy love with me.

The True Love
David Whyte

There's a faith in loving fiercely the one who is rightfully yours
especially if you have waited years and especially if part of you never
believed you could deserve this loved and beckoning hand held
out to you this way.

I am thinking of faith now and the testaments of loneliness
and what we feel we are worthy of in this world.
Years ago in the Hebrides I remember an old man
who would walk every morning on the gray stones
to the shore of baying seals, who would press his
hat to his chest in the blustering salt wind and say his
prayer to the turbulent Jesus hidden in the waters.

And I think of the story of the storm and the people
waking and seeing the distant, yet familiar figure,
far across the water calling to them.
And how we are all preparing for that abrupt waking
and that calling and that moment when we have to say yes!
Except it will not come so grandly, so biblically,
but more subtly, and intimately in the face
of the one you know you have to love.
So that when we finally step out of the boat
toward them we find, everything holds us,
and everything confirms our courage.

And if you wanted to drown, you could,
but you don't, because finally, after all
this struggle and all these years,
you don't want to anymore.
You've simply had enough of drowning
and you want to live, and you want to love.
And you'll walk across any territory,
and any darkness, however fluid,
and however dangerous to take the one
hand and the one life, you know belongs in yours.

David Whyte from The House of Belonging and River Flow (1996); Permission to reprint given by David Whyte & Many Rivers Company

Along the way, you are likely to make a mistake or two. Do not let the pain of these mistakes throw you off course. More importantly, don't second guess your commitment to yourself. There will be a payoff -- I promise! In time, you will realize that you are now healthy, confident and strong enough to choose a romantic partner who is first and foremost a friend and who loves, cares and respects you for who you are, not just what you can do for him or her. You also will find that your improved "relationship picker" will help you get to the point in which you are ready "to take the one hand and the one life, you know belongs in yours." Your improved psychological health will change the "polarity" of your human magnet. (2) You will start to naturally repel narcissists while finding yourself irresistibly attracted to a person with whom you share deep feelings of love, respect and caring. Better yet, a person who wants to love, respect, and care for you will be attracted to you!

Go to the mirror now, and look yourself in the eye. There is a child inside of you, the child you used to be. He or she is you -- a frightened child who is frozen in time because of harm suffered and endured at a young age. You know you desperately want to be released from the shackles of self-doubt, self-loathing and fear. You, and only you, can make the determination to walk down a new path in life that will certainly bring you to happiness, serenity and improved self-esteem. The decision is yours: Live with limited risk but perpetual relational dysfunction, or risk everything and choose to begin the personal/emotional work that will bring you to healthy and satisfying mutual love -- true love. Make the right choice.

1. Ross Rosenberg's Essay: Codependency, Don't Dance (2013). http://goo.gl/xekII7
2. Explained in Ross Rosenberg's Book, The Human Magnet Syndrome: Why We Love Love People Who Hurt Us (2013) www.HumanMagnetSyndrome.com

For more by Ross A. Rosenberg, click here.

For more on love and relationships, click here.