Why “Nurturing” is Not Synonymous with “Codependent”

Remember when I wrote about dichotomous thinking? Well this is a perfect example.

Upright, the Empress is the pinnacle of femininity, mothering, abundance, and giving. Reversed she is codependent and blocked creatively.

They are two sides of the same card, but that does not mean there isn’t  happy medium.

When I started to heal from my codependent habits, I thought that these two words were synonymous. And that was a huge problem for me, because I am a nurturer. This left me feeling highly confused. How do I foster my nurturing demeanor without losing myself in codependency.

Well, did you guess it?

It’s obviously boundaries.

You can be a caring person who wants to cultivate relationships WITHOUT losing yourself. For example, when I was with my infamous ex, I lent him so much money (aside from what he stole from me) that I couldn’t care for myself. This wasn’t helping out a trusted friend in a time of need with money I had to spare. This was giving out more than I could afford from fear of losing him.

See the difference?

I cannot stress this enough: TAKE CARE OF NUMBER ONE. You are the most important person in your life and you are the only one responsible for you. That doesn’t mean you can’t care for a significant other when they are sick by bringing them chicken soup and holding their head, but it does mean you can’t miss a ton of work to dote on them when you already can’t afford your rent.

I know that my examples are always pretty extreme, but bare with me here. This could be the path you are going down if someone’s well being means more than your own. This is an age of independence and mutual love. Two people walking down separate paths that merge together for an equally enjoyable partnership. Not one person jumping on the others and taking over to the point that their original path has disappeared. Control and codependency are pretty synced up here, and you have no business routing another persons journey, especially when it’s to dodge your own.

Being a nurturer is an amazing feminine quality. Celebrating femininity and what makes us differently special is an important and notable idea. Just remember, that you are the most important person that needs caring for. This is why, in airplane safety speeches, they say to fasten your mask first before helping another. You’re no good to anyone when you’re unconscious. Nurture yourself first, before you can nurture others. Stay caring, and stay witchy ( *)

Being Maternal Without Wanting Children

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Throughout my life, I have been very vocal about my not wanting children. I used to say things like “I’m too selfish to have a baby,” or “I hate children.” Neither of those things are (entirely) true, and I don’t need an excuse. I just don’t see my life including a child.

However, I innately have a need to care and nurture. All women do to some degree. And while I don’t see myself as fulfilling these needs with a baby, I take care of many aspects of my life with a maternal scope.

Not too long ago, I had a big problem with codependency. And while many of the parameters to this problem lay in many different emotional problems, a big part was a need to care for another more than I cared for myself. This is an extremely unhealthy practice, but it was basically my maternal needs exacerbated times a million. I think this is why, statistically, women more than men struggle with codependency.

Once I got through and saw what my actions were doing to myself and my relationships, my needs became more clear and I now take care of them in a healthy way. For example, my cat, who I got towards the end of my relationship, fulfills a maternal instinct. Giving my sister advice fulfills some nurturing. Caring for my friends and listening to their problems fulfills some caring. The only difference is that I set boundaries to make sure I don’t get swept away in a codependent flurry again. My friends and my sister are not my children, and I should not treat them as such. I take care of myself first.

While it is true that mothers will and should put their children before their own needs, that is not the reason why I don’t want children. That doesn’t scare me. I just plain don’t want them. I fulfill my needs in healthy ways that make me happy, and that’s all I need. Stay fulfilled and stay witchy ( *)