(To read Codependency Symptoms, skip/scroll down to the bottom of the page)
Painting number ONE!!
(I'm starting from the middle of the book so by the time I paint the beginning and ending, they will look their best!)
Many have asked how the story "You Should You Should" has come about. Those who know me even a little bit cocked their head with a smile and said, "Ginny... is this a story about you?" (You smarties!) Some who suffer from codependency and anxiety have read this story saying, "Yep! I know this feeling exactly." I'm going to take a moment to finally explain the story behind the story.
Well, it all started when... (go ahead, picture me on one of those couches)
I was in the midst of anxiety, depression, counseling, support groups, and studying self-help literature about something called "Codependency." As I became a Senior in the Illustration Program here, it was time to think about my Senior Project - we all have to do one of those in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program to graduate. I decided I'd like to write and illustrate a children's book! Duh. ;) But first I needed a story idea. Learning and working hard to become a person who does NOT eat sleep and breathe for the purpose of pleasing other people was my main focus at the time, and I happened to also be thinking about how I rarely live by choices, I live by the demands of shoulds. I was thinking about how I use to do anything just so people would like me, even painful and uncomfortable things, all with a smile. I thought about how learning this lesson of giving merit to my own wants and feelings as a child might have saved me a lot of grief. As I came to understand more, I also thought it might be cool to possibly write a series of children's stories teaching concepts and skills that I'm just barely learning now and wish I'd learned years ago. Hence my first story about an awkward passive hippo who learns to say no, to be assertive, to value his wants as well as the choice to simply be himself. :)
So. Codependency. This term is complex and difficult to explain, and I'm still making sense of it in my own mind, but I'll be briefly discussing this more in future posts. It can exist between spouses, parent-child, friends, roommates, etc. We'll start with a list of characteristics for today.
www.nmha.org (Mental Health America) gives us this short list of symptoms:
A Few Characteristics of Codependent People
Now, to put simply, CODEPENDENT means believing "I'm dependent on you being dependent on me." AKA: "We love each other because we need each other" instead of "We need each other because we love each other." Aka: "I need you to need me." Yes, codependency is considered an actual behavioral addiction, and as a result we lose contact with ourselves, our feelings, our needs, and feel awful shame if we try.
In future posts ALONG with my art :) I'll discuss more about this people pleasing disease. Such as who it affects, where it comes from, why we have it, how we behave, more symptoms, a questionnaire, how to treat it, anxiety, etc, and how children are related to all of it! I'll only be speaking from my own learning and experience, and I do NOT claim to be a professional by any means. Hahaha... yeah definitely not. I'm still in recovery so... yeah.
I have a goal to write fun and playful children's books that teach skills to children and parents, skills that if are developed in childhood could save us a lot of grief and anxiety as adults.
For one, I absolutely LOVE them; dude, kids are COOL people! Also, my therapist explained a theory which states that the lenses through which we perceive our world develop by the time we're 6. (I know right?) I'm not saying ALL people who struggle with codependency or any mental illness start at age 6. But at least, the seeds are usually planted in childhood and the behaviors are often learned from example.
You Should You Should's quote of the day:
God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
--The Serenity Prayer