FEEDING THE BOTTOMLESS PIT: When Nurturing becomes an invitation to Codependency.
Every single being consciously in search of ‘the spiritual’ has come upon the question of just how to much to give, and whether, if at all, to expect something in return. We dance around this question when we invoke stories of saints who were martyred without expecting anything in turn, and when we declare that we are entitled to some form of energy exchange for our time, work, and presence. There are different answers to this question, and I invite you to find the one that resonates with you.
I have seen, in myself, and in spiritualists whom I utterly and absolutely respect, the tendency to conflate being ‘nurturing’ and ‘of service’, with … absolutely crossing into the BS that is codependency. That is essentially when we devote our energies to the nurture and care of another, whilst neglecting ourselves, in the hope that they will fulfill some deep need or longing within.
I call it BS, in retrospect, because it really does look that way when you realize your own worth – and a moment of clarity arises, asking – what on earth did I think I was doing? But for those caught in the energy sink that is codependency, it’s a painful process and one that constantly challenges the depths of our self worth, and whether we truly believe we will find the nurture that we are entitled to. I take a lot of inspiration from Robin Norwood’s Women who Love too Much – a book that has saved my life, and the lives of countless men and women who have been unable to distinguish healthy forms of nurture with nurture that ultimately feeds the fears (of the self-and-other), perpetuating a very damaging process.
In spiritual discourse, we are called to practice compassion and forgiveness and that is absolutely legitimate, valid and necessary. However, we forget to begin with ourselves. As some of us drain ourselves to fit to certain ideals of service, we end up running on empty. Resentment fills the void as does the question of ‘I’m doing so much, but why, oh why, is _______ not taking caring of me in turn? You could fill that blank with ‘The Divine’, ‘The Universe’, ‘God or Goddess’, ‘your partner’s name’, and so on.
When you’ve reached that point, where you have given just as much as you can give – you have a choice of breaking away from the cycle (which is tough for many, but hard work over time pays off), or of getting even deeper into it – meaning that you’ll force yourself into some kind of energetic crisis that will force you to shift into a healthier vibration. Some people get it right the first time, and others take many years to get there – that just depends on the baggage you’re carrying and whether you’ve done the ‘inner work’ in preparation of the shift.
I stress ‘inner’ because there is only so far your conscious mind can adhere to mantras of self-nurture, self-love and empowerment without requiring a deeper shift in your sub-conscious to make a lasting change. Mantras, facilitations, gemstones, NLP and other tools can help – but, as I have found – it takes a powerful amount of internal change for such changes to actually manifest in all aspects of your lives.
This has been a post I’ve been wanting to write for several years now and it seems particularly relevant with the astrology of Vesta in Pisces opposed the North Node in Virgo, tying into much of the Spiritual Shifts that many are experiencing now. I hope you find it relevant on your journey, and as always – stick with it if it resonates, let it go if it doesn’t. Your awakening will happen on the timeline, in the way you have chosen to let it.
Two friends of mine essentially ended up asking me the same question not too long ago, namely: How do I know when I’ve given enough, or when I’m already giving too much? (And yes, Nurture and energy is something that comes from Infinite Spirit, true, but you’re still in charge of the vessel that channels it…)
I immediately replied, “when what you give feeds fear and insecurity”. That can apply to you, or the person you’re giving your energy to, or both.
It’s a simple metric, and obviously a general principle that needs a nuanced application of itself – that comes with time, experience and the habit of self-love. But I find it a powerful question to pose to the Self, to the most powerful relationships in a person’s life, and even to the relationship between the facilitator and the facilitated.
If you find that your best efforts to making someone feel safe, loved, or wanted are simply reinforcing those fears – perhaps it’s time to step back a little, rethink and regroup. Rather than seeing this as a ‘selfish’ act, perhaps it’s better to think of it as ‘self-centered’, which is fine. Are we not parts of the Universe experiencing consciousness? Is our frame of mind, health, well-being and sanity, any less than another’s?
Key questions to ask, and answer. In some cases, you will find that an open-hearted discussion can truly smooth the way for a better partnership, and in others, you will find that walking away will free you-and-whoever-you’re-dealing-with from a damaging, vicious cycle of energetic loss and imbalance.
This is something that just about everyone in the world has faced as part of their journey of spiritual evolution. It’s not a sign that you’re terribly broken, or a victim of your thoughts – it simply means that you too, are human, as are the people with whom you learn these lessons.
It’s okay to walk away, be there, do whatever you feel is right – but at the end of the day, as best you can … it’s probably a good idea to be as kind and articulate about it as possible. Whether the other person gets you is – essentially – their deal, not yours.
Keep questioning people, ideas and things that make you feel bad about not giving up your needs for another. And the more you challenge this stereotype, the more you will discover a healthier form of self-nurture evolving alongside compassion for others.
You might ask how all the Ascended Beings we look up to practice such extreme levels of compassion without being selfish (a common term that the ego-mind uses to downplay the need for self-care). What I found is that their mastery of self-love was a prerequisite to their compassion for others. These Masters could withstand anything and everything the external world threw at them precisely because no one and nothing could shake their core of self-love. When you reach THAT point, you’re in a whole different league, my friends.
At least that’s my take on it – puts a very different spin to things, doesn’t it?
** Please note that none of the information presented here is meant to replace advice from a medical, healthcare, legal and/or other professional. How you choose to act upon the advice given is entirely based on your own free will. By engaging with this work, you also accept the author’s non-liability for any consequences that may emerge from reading this work. You also accept that any part of this work can be used for non-commercial purposes with proper citation to the author and her websitewww.bairaveebalasubramaniam.com, T&Cs apply.