September 18, 2018

Codependency and Intimacy: Is Love Enough?

This week, Bee Uytiepo explores how codependent relationships can actually rob us and others of the growth opportunities we need.


Is love enough? The quick answer is, if you’re the only one rowing the boat, it’s likely only going to keep moving at the rate you’re willing to row. And who’s job is it to row anyway? We’ll get back to this, but first let’s talk about walking.

We’re so nice. Some of us see a person really struggling and having a hard time. And we think "Oh they’re just so cute, like a baby tripping and falling over." So we think, "Oh! I better help them. They might hurt themselves." Red flag! If we have co-dependent inclinations, be alert of there being a well meaning voice in the background saying, "Besides, they need me to help them. If I don’t do it. Who will? I’m the best person to do it, because I care about them more than anyone else." The truth is, most babies need to crawl, trip and fumble all over themselves to learn to walk.

In fact, as a bodyworker, I’ve learned that the crawling we did as a baby actually helps our bodies learn the fine motor skills it takes to activate all the subtle contralateral movements we take for granted as abled walkers. So while we think we’re being nice, we actually might be hindering someone’s learning curve. Granted, life happens anyway, and we’ve likely been in a codependent relationship of some kind, if we’re not still in one. So what we can do is identify our tendencies and examine the habits of our inner voices. Once we can identify these habitual voices, then we can decide whether to and how to row the boat onward.

Habitual Victim Voice

We’ve all got one. Some of us focus on the way other people’s victim consciousnesses arise, but what we really need to ask ourselves, is what is my victim consciousness talking about? What is YOUR fumbling baby, inner teenager, angry grown up blaming other people, places or things about? The key word is blame. If we find the story of blame, we can find the voice of the victim.

Inside of you. If we listen carefully, we can hear our inner victim blaming someone who is at fault for why we "have to" or "can’t" do x, y and zed. Why we we’re afraid, why we’re too small, too big, not ready and just not enough. It’s my mom, my dad, my enemy, my lover, my child, my assailant and/or the organization’s poor planning. It’s "so and so’s" fault!! It’s because of that awful thing that happened and that’s why.

So we wait. A part of our mind has hopes and dreams that it will be magically whisked away and someone or something (ideally that person or another one) will come and make it all better. Like a fairytale. If not them, then hopefully someone or something else will clean up this wounded world. Maybe it will be my next partner, my dream job, a yoga pose, a pill, or my chosen family instead of my family of origin. Someone or something, out there, will make this sad and wounded soul in me, be healed.

The victim mind is not a "bad" habitual voice, it’s a super important part of ourselves meant to be found and be aware of, because we’re all highly capable of making decisions from the codependent default on autopilot (see Part Two) from places of fear, rejection, abuse and abandonment. We need to give voice to our victim consciousness in healthy arenas, like therapeutic sessions: talk, somatic and otherwise. Knowing ourselves with this intimacy allows us to be more compassionate with our victim and guide ourselves to healing.

Habitual Rescuer Voice

Not everyone has an inclination to rescue, but if you have co-dependency coded into your DNA, then you probably have some of this going on too. When we engage in rescuing, we aim to be the person, place or organization’s EVERYthing. We become the indispensable parent, partner and friend because we’re so “nice and helpful”, right? Being nice and helpful isn’t the problem. It’s learning to be able to decipher what is truly helpful, versus potentially harmful. It’s tricky, because it’s not always all or nothing. It can be a completely sincere wish to help, but ends up being flavored with some level of meddling.

For example, when I was in elementary school, I told my mother that I needed help drawing maps for a school project. I was so nervous and excited to ask her, because my mom was a great artist. So instead of patiently helping me learn how to draw maps, she drew them for me. She rescued me. I remember feeling confused, like I should be so grateful that she helped me, perhaps even relieved because I didn’t have to do it at all. But I remember feeling kind of ripped off. Like she helped me by cheating and I didn’t get to draw with her. And in the end, I felt robbed of the experience of accomplishing and creating a perfectly imperfect map with my mom.

It may not be a parent-child dynamic. It could be any number of scenarios: lovers, co-workers, teacher-student. Some rescuing is relationship appropriate: doctor-patient, firefighter-house and doula-new mom. Rescuing is not necessarily a bad habit, it’s about being able to decipher what is truly helpful. It takes courage to be humble within our own mind to know when we are capable of being smothering or kind. When we rescue skillfully, we are acknowledging our profoundly intrinsic interdependence, not perpetuating codependence.

Conscious Rowing

So back to rowing. When a relationship is struggling. Who’s job is it to keep the boat moving forward? If we love each other, shouldn’t that be enough? Shouldn’t it be smooth sailing here on out? Have you ever sailed? I haven’t, but conceptually I understand that in every moment there are decisions to be made. Literally decisions ranging from when to relax with alertness and when action is a matter of survival.

Help is Available

Of course we can enlist the help of others and rely upon their guidance. At the end of the the day, the people in the boat need to row their boat. They may need rowing or sailing lessons. It’s up those on the boat to work as a team to get to the next part of their journey! The key is to do it with wisdom whenever possible. When you don’t know what to do next, meditate on it, get qualified advice from someone with wisdom. Then allow your inner qualified rower to guide you to make the next best decision.

Navigating Your Perfectly Imperfect Map

Then you navigate where you are on your perfectly imperfect map. Discern whether you and your teammates are rowing in circles, treacherous waters, upstream or what ever the course may be. Watch for the unruly influence of habitual voices leading you astray from your map. Sometimes it means ending the journey early. Sometimes it’s more loving to leave than it is to stay. However, if you can row like a pro with the wisdom you’ve earned or learned, then by all means continue to contribute to the forward momentum within your relationships.

So is love enough? You can love someone forever, but not be in the right kind of boat to sail with them in. If that resonates, maybe it’s time to change the roles in your relationship? If the boat (relationship type) is right, then who’s job is it to row/take action? Ideally, whoever is in the boat. It takes team work. There are no right answers, but there’s is usually the next best action to take. Even when the best decision is to take no action and go with the tide, it will literally changes the course of the journey. So row mindfully and row towards your best loving selves.

Letting Love Last

All that said, you may have more questions. I will try to answer some more in the next and last post. For example, how can you make love last? The quick answer is, remember you won’t run out. Next week, we’ll explore how we expand and contract our willingness to love. In the meantime, be a little more mindful about how the habitual voices are influencing the way you’re rowing (or not) in all of your relationships? Are you coasting upstream or are you active rower? Where and when can you gather resources to be a more active rower/ team player in the your relationships?

I would love to hear about your explorations of imperfect rowing. Post in the comments below or email me at Lots of love to you! I hope this exploration brings you much love and blissful heartfelt experiences of love, for you and for you to share.

Deborah “Bee” Uytiepo 
Wholistic Health Practitioner and Personal Coach.

Deborah “Bee" Uytiepo is the owner of Beelight, a women’s wholistic health and person coaching practice. Her therapeutic bodywork combines neuromuscular therapy, brain function and visceral organ health, specializing in optimal pelvic and reproductive health. Bee has studied and practiced meditation for over 30 years. She has taught meditation as a volunteer throughout Southern and Northern California for over 15+ years. In order to benefit her clients with the vast rewards of her life’s personal growth work, Bee developed The Let Go Sessions, a series of macro retreats that support your Let-Go’s, holistically and completely, body and mind. Bee is the founder and principal facilitator of Healing is Giving. Healing is Giving hosts community events, fundraisers and workshops that prioritize harm-free(dom). For a more detailed bio, please visit her website:

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