Self-Care and Co-dependency: Can they Co-exist?

Posted on July 20, 2017 by


codependencyHello, my name is Peggi and I am a codependent.  I am pretty sure I was born codependent but these traits were also ingrained in me as a child.  I was the people pleaser, the one making sure everyone else was happy.  The caretaker – making sure everyone’s needs were met even if they didn’t know what they needed.  I thrived on busy-ness, directing, planning, telling everyone what they needed to do and how to do it or better yet –  I did it myself.  It was not that I shied away from conflict either, in fact I was always ready to address a conflict – just to be in the middle of it and then clean up the mess.  Whew I kept myself very busy!

My chosen career as an ER nurse and roles as wife/mom fed this codependency to the fullest.  I cared for critical patients during the day, took pediatric calls in the evening while parenting my own, and did my best to keep a perfect home.  I volunteered at my kids’ school functions, was on the school board, made sure my special needs child got to all of his private services not provided by school, carpooled to school and sports and advanced my own career.

My children’s’ father was not a hands-on father.  Looking back, I am not sure if that was his doing or mine.  Did I push him to the side because he didn’t do it MY way?  All I know is that after several years I soon started resenting my role as a single parent with a dual income and the relationship dissolved.

My health had also taken a turn south – enter high cholesterol, estrogen dominance, weight gain, adrenal fatigue, pre-diabetes, IBS, migraines, etc.  My physician prescribed anti-depressants so I didn’t care that I was fat and diseased.

This was the wake-up call I needed. I had recently changed jobs – leaving clinical for the corporate world; thinking no critical patients, nights, weekends or holidays would help and I needed to address my health immediately.  I hired a coach who started working with food and water making small changes that cleared my body (and mind) of inflammation and disease.  This was the beginning of self-care; planning, logging food and taking time to exercise.  I was feeling physically better but now I was fitting these extra steps into my already busy schedule.

Finally, I began to realize that what I was DOING needed to change – not just at a food/exercise level but at deep daily routine of who I was BEING – my actions, my thoughts, my job, my relationships, my lifestyle. I also realized that if I am doing everything for everyone else, I have no time nor energy to do for me. Ahhh, but how do I change when this felt strangely rewarding!

Codependency is deeply rooted into my being and I have found no magic switch that I can just turn off, mind my own business and take care of myself.  Starting small with food, water, and exercise was safe and comfortable. Many months later I added in meditation and self-reflection. Then years later 2 more job changes to a full-time health coaching career.

I now know that I help others (and myself) more when I stop controlling and doing for them what they can and NEED to do for themselves.  I wait to be asked before I step in and that it is alright for them to fail for it is in falling that we learn to get back up.

I am not sure that codependents are ever not codependent but I do know that the level of self-care is inversely related to codependency interference. Recognizing the damage that codependency does to ourselves and others far outweighs the short term feel good we experience.  I am far from perfect and I struggle daily but I am eternally grateful to have found a guiltless self-care life.  I am blessed with opportunities to look at myself and improve who I BE and guide others to this happy place without doing it for them.


Peggi Ingram, RN BSN

Genesis Transformation Coach