Tied Up in Illusion – Old Codependent Behaviors
See if you can relate to this bovine story of stuckness illustrating codependent behaviors
Here is a nice illustration of codependent behaviors: Early each morning a young boy let the cows out to pasture and in the evenings he brought them home. So that the cows didn’t roam through the night, he made sure they were each tied. One evening the boy saw a cow that had lost her rope during the day and he had nothing else with which to tie her. He couldn’t have her wandering off in the night, so he ran to ask the old man next door what he should do.
The old man listened to the boy and nodded. “Son, you just pretend to tie up that cow with an imaginary rope. She’ll stay.”
The boy was skeptical, but went back and tried the old man’s suggestion. In the morning, the boy was delighted. The cow stood exactly where he had tied her the night before with an imaginary rope.
Following his routine, the boy untied all the other cows, and began to lead them to pasture. When he noticed that the one cow didn’t follow, he went back, pulled on her halter. He slapped her on the flank. She wouldn’t move. He tried to coax her out, but the cow would not budge. The boy was stumped. He ran back over to his neighbor, and updated the old man. The man smiled, “Son, just go and pretend to untie her imaginary rope. She’ll go.”
This cow is not much different than any person who feels trapped in an unhappy life. We don’t even try to walk away or change, because we feel we are tied up tight. People new to recovery behavior usually don’t believe that they are free to make choices; imaginary ropes can bind deeply.
A good counsellor can help you with the illusion of untying the imaginary ropes, and as you begin to take your first steps away from the wall, you will see the ropes were never even there. Having a safe place to explore and practice these new ideas and behaviors is really important. New behaviors and ways of seeing the world seldom come quickly or easily. There are almost always loved ones or family members who will insist to you that those ropes are real. They don´t mean to sabotage, and generally they have the best of intentions, but they can be deadly to recovery. Newcomers are often coaxed back into the stall with the rest of the fettered herd.
It is very difficult to find freedom without separating from others who may not be ready to change. If your ´ropes´are chafing, and you are feeling strangled, step out of the imaginary restraints. Serenity Vista is a safe place to help you heal your imaginary rope burns, and recognize the truth of freedom. We believe that codependency deserves rehab too!