Growing up, I was terrified of codependency. I never wanted to rely on anyone for anything. I didn’t want to look to someone else to give me self-worth, and I never wanted to let another being have the power to dictate my happiness. I wanted to be able to take care of myself. Perhaps this is something I was born with, or maybe I picked it up somewhere along the way.
Regardless, I let this insecurity expose itself in all of my relationships. I don't think it was ever obvious to the people in my life, but it always unavoidably crept up from the back of my mind at the worst times. As soon as I started to feel like I needed someone, I would become the worst version of myself. I’d be despondent and dejected and I would react to common, ordinary scenarios in foolish, irrational ways. I became the person I was most afraid of.
It seemed to get worse in college. I watched my savings account steadily drop with each tuition bill and I felt as if I was caught in this unforgiving stream of men that treated me like royalty, but would leave at the drop of a hat. I felt out of control and like I was losing my mind. So I did what anyone stuck in their head would do: I started going to yoga.
About a year into my practice, I attended a class with a teacher I hadn’t seen before. She started the class the same as most I had been to, with a deep breathing exercise and some insightful words. And like in most classes, the instructor stressed the importance of setting an intention for our practice—anything we need, beginning with the words, “I am…”
As I sat up on my mat, eyes closed and hands on my heart, I thought, “I am independent.” It was then when she said, “Now, repeat your intention to yourself and add ‘and I am okay.’” I think I started crying.
I am independent and I am okay.
Seven words I carry around with me to this day, whispering them when I feel like I’m losing myself, screaming them when my heart aches, offering them to friends who need them. It has become my mantra, my motto, my empowering chant of reassurance.
But I think now it’s time to change mantras. It’s been years since that yoga class, and I believe I have since proven to myself that I am, in fact, independent. I think maybe now, I just need to remember that I am okay.
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