My Love/Hate Relationship With Codependency (the word)


Did you know that this month is the very first designated National Codependency Awareness Month? I didn’t either until a couple of weeks ago.

The soft, squishy, awwww part of me felt a glowing sweetness, similar to watching a slumbering dog, when I heard the news. I thought, “Well isn’t that nice. Melody Beattie must be so proud.”

I decided, as I usually do when I get excited about something related to addiction and/or recovery, to write a blog post. I started laying it out in my head: 1. Go to the national sources that usually dish out the monthly themes. 2. Get some background from the appropriate “anonymous” site. 3. Call up Melody or maybe Oprah for some nice touchy-feely nuggets.

The hateful thoughts

Two things happened. First, a Google search for National Codependency Awareness Month didn’t lead me to any federal agencies that usually back monthly designations. Instead I learned that an author named Diane Jellen designated January as National Codependency Awareness Month.

No hateful thought yet because, gosh, I don’t even know Diane. Her new book, My Resurrected Heart, looks like it’s selling well on Amazon. She’s a pro and has apparently survived the crappy undercurrents of addiction’s codependent hostages.

At the same time, I felt some kind of itch that needed to be scratched, and it became more insistent as I watched Diane’s YouTube video on why there needs to be a National Codependency Awareness Month.

So I did another Google search: codependency and why it gets a bad rap.

It doesn’t hurt to see if others are scratching their itches too, right?

And there it was. A group in London called Harley Therapy wrote this blog post last year: The Great Codependency Hoax: Are We ALL Codependent?

The first hateful thought: Guess I won’t be talking to Oprah.

The second hateful thought:

Tweet: Most people use the word codependency incorrectly, including me!

Here’s the thing: the true meaning of codependency has changed over the decades; it’s original definition had to do with being “addicted to those who are addicted.” Webster’s has codependency listed as first used in 1979 and meaning “a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (as an addiction to alcohol or heroin).”

Codependency does not mean that when you feel comforted and dependent on someone in your life, that you are codependent. It doesn’t mean that wanting to please your boss means you’re codependent. You’re probably not even codependent when you get pissed off when someone hurts you, breaks a trust or takes something that is yours.

You’re a human being with normal human feelings.

Tweet: Please, please, please don’t allow the flippant overuse of the word codependency talk you into something you’re not.

According to the Harley Therapy folks, truly codependent people tend to seek out others who are counterdependent (meaning they’re buttoned up, show few emotions and have little regard for others’ needs or feelings). These relationships are usually a recipe for disaster.

Instead of co- and counter- combo, I like the Harley Therapy idea that we all work toward being interdependent. They describe the two characteristics of interdependency:

1) You come from a place of self-respect and self trust. In other words, before you depend on the one you love, you also know that if push came to shove you can depend on you to take care of you. So it’s not about needing the other person to survive, which is dependency, it’s about being able to survive by yourself but allowing the other person to help you to not just survive but to thrive.

2) You depend on the each other in a completely equal way. They depend on you for some things, too. It’s an equal game of give and take.

Simple but not easy, yes, I realize. But I like it! What do you say we try to become more interdependent as a means of relating with others. Doesn’t that sound much more healthy?

Photo courtesy of ArielleJay

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Simple Recovery Advice: Master Self-Acceptance Now


I was well into my second decade of recovery before I really understood that a successful life is one where you accept pleasure and pain with equal measure.

Come on, who wants to willingly accept pain?

After all, repetitive advertising has us brainwashed into believing that a pill can help nearly every kind of physical, mental and emotional pain.

Medication is useful and helpful; please don’t think I’m anti-medicine. But medicine must partner with self-responsibility and ultimately, self-acceptance.

Letting go of blame and shame

People in recovery, especially women new to recovery, carry large bags of shame around with them. For some reason, I think women are hard-wired to cling to the messes in their past as they valiantly try to fix them. One of my guy friends told me it took him about 15 minutes to let go of his past!

But we gals seem to want to go to any lengths to right our wrongs! We put so much energy into should have, could have  and what if that we disregard the joy in our present circumstances.

Some of us spend countless hours obsessing over unintended words or even the tone of a conversation. There is just no point!

“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.” ~ Brene Brown

Please, God, let this good feeling last forever . . .

Conversely, when the good times roll around, don’t you just gush with excitement? It’s sooooo goooood. He’s so fabulous. She is the ult! OMG, you just wouldn’t believe how cool it was.

Damn, if we could only feel this way forever then life would be complete. I’ve been known to pray that a day never ends.

There are times when my unbalanced self wants to fiercely grasp the good times to my chest and push all that causes hurt as far away as possible. Just make it go away.

Letting myself sit with all those feelings, while shedding tears of grief or happiness, is where I’ll find my self-respect and self-compassion.

“As I accept my experiences with an open heart, I discover God in all of then, which brings me wisdom and peace of mind.” ~ The Daily Word

Now moments are so precious

When you accept yourself–all your past experiences–with love and compassion, you’ll find yourself much more present to this moment.

I learned a valuable lesson over the weekend. My sweetie and I missed a magical opportunity because we settled for a practical, even responsible, option instead of acting on an impulse. Later, we talked about how we both felt sad over our lost Now Moment.

But we accepted it and moved on. When a similar situation comes our way again, you can bet we’ll jump all over it! We will live the heck out of our future Now Moments . . . and then release them.

For right now, we accept that all is right . . . now.

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Release Your Stranglehold on Fear (Finally)


One of my mentors and friends, Tess Marshall, has just opened The Unstoppable Courage Club, a monthly program designed to help you let go of any and all fears that keep you from being your incredible true self. Enjoy this interview and if you’re inclined, please click here or on the link at the end to join. (This isn’t an affiliate program, so I get no percentage of Tess’ signups, just the knowledge that I introduced the two of you so you can grow together.).

Tess, for our readers who don’t know you please introduce yourself.

I work as a writer, speaker, and courage coach. I have a master’s degree in counseling psychology and had a private practice in Michigan for 10 years. I love to guide and inspire people to overcome their fears, take the action needed to create a meaningful life and be wildly successful. 

I write at The Bold Life, for an amazing and growing community that I love dearly.  My work has allowed Tess Marshall 1-15me to reach people all over the world. I’ve written three books and created five ecourses and now the Unstoppable Courage Club.

Tell us more about the Unstoppable Courage Club.

The Unstoppable Courage Club is a monthly program designed to help you do one thing: Overcome fear with confidence and courage.

I want to reach as many as people I can. I’ve set the monthly fee very low to ensure that anybody can join and there are no excuses to get started with releasing your fear.

Each month the focus will be on releasing your fear and building your courage.  Why monthly? Because overcoming fear and making positive change takes time and consistent practice. The biggest reason people fail is because they try to do too much at once.

The course is designed to take you beyond excuses, procrastination, worries and doubts … from fear to freedom.  You’ll gain the confidence to take bold action. 

As a subscriber, each month you will receive articles and videos, access to the club on a private page at The Bold Life. There will be a new topic each month; here’s the breakdown for this year:

January: The Courage to Feel and Act Worthy of The Good Life

February: The Courage to Focus on Your Dreams and Proceed with Abandon

March: The Courage to Take Risks and Fail

April: The Courage to Expect and Embrace Rejection

May: The Courage to Resolve Problems and Heal Relationships

June: The Courage to Become More Present and Engaged in the World

July: The Courage to Live with More Adventure, Freedom and Love

August: The Courage to Immerse Yourself Live with Uncertainty

September: The Courage to Be Vulnerable and Love No Matter What

October: The Courage to Be Yourself and Be For Yourself

November: The Courage to Quit Your Excuses and Be 100% Responsible

December: The Courage to Believe In Your Capabilities to Succeed

Lessons. You’ll get a video or article each month on overcoming fear and mastering confidence and courage.

Is there anything else included in the monthly program?

Yes. You’ll also get reminder emails each week with ideas to take actionable steps to eliminate fear, monthly helpsheets to reinforce the lesson, webinars on that month’s lesson (with time for Q&A!), and access to a private Facebook for check-ins. 

Why did you create The Unstoppable Courage Club?

I understand what it is like to be paralyzed by fear. In the past, I made mistakes, I spent my time freaked out, playing small, denying and hiding from fear.

Little by little, I turned my life around. I created a new story.  The payoff of my post-fear life? I raised my family, I saved my marriage, became a successful therapist, a coach, an author, a professional speaker, a blogger, a writer–all things that I achieved even though I never thought they were possible. 

The Unstoppable Courage Club is the culmination of everything I’ve learned. I’m still asked, “How do you do it?” I’ve been blessed with very loving and brilliant mentors and teachers throughout my lifetime. Now it’s my turn to give back!

What are the benefits for those who join the Unstoppable Courage Club?

It is life-changing if you do the exercises, participate in the webinars, get involved in the community and apply what you learn.  Anais Nin said, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” 

Once you commit to doing what it takes, you’ll become more confident and courageous in everything you do. You can’t think your way out of fear. You must act your way out of it. Once you change your life, there is no going back. You may fall back but you can’t stay back. It’s impossible. 

The course will lead you out of the pitfalls of fear and insecurity and into the power of freedom and innate courage. You only need to take one small step at a time. All your little steps add up and take you where you need—and want—to be.

You can sign up for The Unstoppable Courage Club here.

Photo courtesy of xenia

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2015: Jump-Start Your New Year With Passion!


Do you look around and see other people living the lives they want to live, but you struggle to make your inspired life happen?

Do you struggle to find meaning and passion in your life?

Do you feel stuck, with every day feeling pretty much the same, but you just can’t get out of your rut?

Are you BORED at work?

If you’re ready to find passion and meaning in your life, set and finally reach your goals, I have an amazing e-course to share with you. It will help you get out of your rut and live the life you’ve always wanted to.

The 9 Day Passion Project e-course is full of tools, exercises, and wisdom from my friend Jessica Sweet, who is a coach and clinical social worker. This e-course draws on all her experience in her life and work so you can discover your passion and find meaning in your life.

Are you ready to get unstuck?

I know you want to embrace a life you’re excited about. One filled with things that mean something to you.

But that kind of life doesn’t just appear. You have to create it.

Click here to begin creating.

If you’ve struggled to know how to create it on your own, The 9 Day Passion Project will walk you through it. It will:

*Help you understand what’s truly important to you.

*Help you figure out how to make room for your important goals in your busy life.

*Overcome the barriers that stand in your way.

The 9 Day Passion Project is the path to living a life that feels like you’re meant to live.

Click here to live your full life NOW.

Take the first step in 2015 (and beyond!) and join The 9 Day Passion Project today!

You’ll be astounded at the transformation you can make in just 9 days!

P.S. I’m careful about the programs I recommend to my readers and followers. Jessica’s is a good one; I encourage you to click on the link above, and yes, I’ll get a small affiliate fee, more than anything I want for 2015 to be the year that YOU kick ass and take names. I intend to do just that. Will you join me?

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Sneak Peak: The 9 Day Passion Project


It’s the time of year you’re supposed to be happy.  And maybe you are. But maybe there’s part of you (maybe a big part) that feels stuck in the same old routine.

With the New Year just a couple of days away, maybe you realize not much has changed.


You’re starting the new year with the same job, same sense of searching for something with passion, same stuck-ness.

Wow. Bet you can hardly wait.

Do you want 2015 to be different? Do you want to feel inspired in the new year, to feel passionate about the goals you’re working toward, and to feel like your life is not on auto-pilot?

Then HOLD ON because help is on the way!

My friend Jessica Sweet is opening a brand new course called The 9 Day Passion Project on January 1st, just in time for you to kick-start your new year. It is a course designed to help you find your passions, and set and reach your goals like never before. She’s here to tell you about it today; the doors will open on the first, but to grab a sneak peak, check it out here.

Hey Jess! For our readers who don’t know you, please introduce yourself.

I’m a career and life coach, and before that I was a therapist and clinical social worker. I have a Master’s degree in social work and I worked in mental health and substance abuse settings for 10 years before starting my coaching practice. I love to help people find and create the work that they love to do, because no one should be doing work or living a life they don’t love! My blog is and I pour my heart into all I do there!

Tell us more about what The 9 Day Passion Project is and what inspired you to write it? 

I truly believe we can all create lives that can make us happier. When we are doing things that we love and find meaningful, we are happy, but too much of our lives are spent on things we have to do, like go to jobs we don’t like. The 9 Day Passion Project helps people find a way to do things that they love while still fulfilling all the responsibilities and commitments that they have in life, like earn enough money to support their family.

I was really inspired to write the project because I don’t want to see so many people struggle with doing things the hard way. You can figure out what you love and fit it into your busy life so that change doesn’t feel so hard.

The 9 Day Passion Project is available in three ways:

*You can buy the workbook alone with all the course material you need to complete the exercises on your own and work your way toward any and every goal you’ve ever wanted to achieve.

The workbook is 68-pages, has over 30 exercises and is fully downloadable so you can use the material again and again.

*You can also buy The 9 Day Passion Project as an interactive course. This option contains the 68-page, 30+ exercise, fully downloadable workbook plus: Daily emails delivered over 9 days to enrich your experience, deepen your learning and keep you inspired, expert coaching and guidance from me in a private Facebook group and high-value, personal development bonuses

*Or, for those of you who want the most personalized experience and who are serious about change in 2015, you can get The 9 Day Passion Project workbook, Facebook group & coaching, daily emails, and bonuses plus two private coaching sessions with me.

These three options offer everyone a way to take advantage of this offer and make real and lasting change in 2015!

I’ve read a staggering statistic that as many as 87% of people around the world don’t like their jobs, and I know so many people just feel like they are in a rut in their lives. Do you really think this can help? 


The 9 Day Passion Project is a tool that can help you figure out what is meaningful to you and what you are passionate about in many areas of your life, so if you’re struggling with a job you hate but don’t know what you’d like to do, The 9 Day Passion Project will guide you through thinking about what’s important to you. And because The 9 Day Passion Project is so practical, it also helps you figure out how to make your new idea work in your life, so you can actually start doing what you love, not just dream about it.

Can The 9 Day Passion Project help people in recovery? 

Of course! Part of my purpose in creating this project was to meet people where they are in life. Although The 9 Day Passion Project is not a guide specific to recovery, I think it’s a good guide for anyone who is searching for meaning and purpose. Plus, it provides structure so it’s great for people in recovery and really terrific as an accompaniment to someone’s main recovery path.

What does the 9 Day Passion Project help people do? 

It is a tool for helping you identify what is important to you, figure out how to make room for that in your life, and identify and overcome the barriers that are going to stand in the way of you achieving that goal you want to achieve.

These are fundamental steps for setting yourself up for success in any area of your life, with anything you want to do.

The 9 Day Passion Project lays the groundwork for achieving your goals, so that you can achieve them more easily than doing them on your own. Think of it as playing a sport, but having your own superstar coach.

Why 9 days? How come you make the course so fast? And can you really do all that in 9 days?

The course is fast because you CAN get results fast.

It will help you set your goals, make room for them in your busy life and identify and eliminate barriers, but its still going to be up to you to do the work of achieving the goals you set for yourself. That work will take more than 9 days. But you can start 2015 off with some really clear and achievable goals with this course. 

What do you hope that people will take away after completing the course?

I really hope that people will see that they can set and achieve their goals, and that they don’t have to live in that rut – in that uninspired place they may have been living in for so long.

On a deeper level, I think when people live in that rut for a long time, and when everyone you know lives in that rut, it just sort of becomes the human condition. It’s what it means to be a grown up. You have a job you don’t like. You are a little depressed. No one is inspired or doing great things. At least no one you know. So on a deeper level I want people to take away that there is a path for them to get out of the rut and do the things they’ve always wanted to do or be the person they’ve always wanted to be. Even if they don’t know who or what that is yet.

Thanks, Jessica. Be sure to check out The 9 Day Passion Project and watch for the doors to open on January 1st!

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