Just a Flower in His Lapel
Written By: Mark Smith
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"You will always just be a flower in his lapel". This is the message a father gave his beautiful young daughter just before she married her handsome, charismatic pastor husband. I'm not quite sure if he meant that comment in a positive way or a negative way. She took as an extremely limiting epitaph that would place her in a role that she was just not suited for. In her heart she wanted to be a person in her own right. She wanted to have lapels of her own. It just wasn't in her to overly selflessly give, serve, adore, cheerlead, smile, look good and otherwise prop up his role as the dashing, brilliant pastor for decades on end. It got old fast. Now this broken couple has some major re-tooling to do if they are to rebuild their discouraged, tired and distant marriage.
Pastor's wives are certainly not the only ones who suffer from 'flower in his lapel Codependency'. It is a very common condition in all walks of life. It robs evryone associated with it of joy and real connectedness. A fulfilling life requires heart felt gritty passions, purpose, emotional depth and a sense of calling to do and to be your best self, sharing your best gifts and making contributions to the world. Codependent lapel flowers spend the vast majority of their time in the wrong places, with the wrong people, at the wrong times, for the wrong reasons. It just doesn't feel right at all. It is draining of the soul, resulting in a bone weariness that makes people old long before they really are. Something is missing, (or rather somebody - themselves). They aren't living their lives, they are living the lives of the people around them instead and that can not work well for very long. They appear to be the moral, righteous, Christian, good motherly, good wifely things to do, but it is, in fact, none of those things. Counterfeit good works are not good works. A Codpendent lapel flower was driving a rented convertible along Route 1 on the cliffs overlooking the ocean in California while on vacation. In her excitement she drove way too fast, lost control of the vehicle and in the seconds before plunging to her death on the rocks below SOMEBODY ELSE's life passed before her! Find YOUR LIFE. Live YOUR LIFE. Be the flower in your own lapel!
If you do so, at this point, trust me, you are going to piss a whole lot of people off. You have trained everyone in your life to expect a sick 'saintly' overly nice, milk toast shadow of your true self. An acquaintance from 30 years ago recently wrote me that her Codependent marriage was a causality of her having to learn to speak "the language of true soul talk". That's what I'm talking about! Getting emotionally healthy is a dangerous thing to do. It will blow to shreads all the unhealthy, controlling, manipulative and enmeshed in wrong stuff for you relationships. Your pain is trying to tell you something. Pay attention! Your life is on the line. You only get one shot at the gift of your life. Do what you need to do to be you! Your pain certainly feels like a bad thing, but it is actually your salvation! Have the courage to feel it and learn from it. Let your gut tell you what your next step is. The adventure of building your life around a healthy sense of self will be tumultuous ride that is never boring but always worth every brave step you make in the right direction.
In our 'be the flower in your own lapel' groups (not really called that) we teach and encourage female and male Codependents alike to fan the flames of entitlement, assertiveness, courage, adventure, boundary setting and dreaming really big dreams. Your future can be whatever you want it to be. The world is an amazingly unlimited place filled with endless opportunities. If you want something go get it. Period. The bonus with movement towards a healthy self is that it is not too self focused or overly independent, which creates an environment where intimacy, compromise, partnership and equality can grow and thrive. Those are rare and priceless relationship qualities to be sure. Get you some!
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