We are codependent because we allow the behavior of another person to effect our behavior so that we become consumed with that person and their problems. This obsession with the issues and problems of others becomes debilitating to us as we exhaust inordinate and inappropriate amounts of mental and emotional energy over them, leaving little, if any, energy for ourselves. Often our childhood was so chaotic and our environments were so out of control, we learned ways to escape to try to find serenity. As we grew into adulthood, we worked hard at trying to control our external environment, believing it was the key to our happiness and inner peace. Our family of origin was frequently dysfunctional. Sometimes we even blamed ourselves for our parent’s problems. If we were terrorized by a volatile alcoholic parent, anger became an unacceptable and unwelcomed guest in our lives. Anger was to be avoided at all costs. As a result, we learned to appease; we learned to rescue. We learned to be aware of others’ feelings in order to protect ourselves and began to lose touch with our own feelings. We made ourselves responsible for the happiness of others, and when they weren’t happy, neither were we. We are extremely loyal but also extremely insecure. Self-doubt is our constant companion, and often self-hatred. Being unacceptable to ourselves, we hide our true selves, convinced that if anyone truly knew us, they would abandon us. This fear of abandonment often fuels our codependent behavior as we seek to do everything in our power to become so valuable that others would not want to leave us. By choice, our lives are not our own and our emotions are the property of whatever crisis the person(s) closest to us is having. http://www.vvcrossroads.org/ministries/recovery/codependency/men
It’s not that you should never love something
so much that it can control you.
It’s that you need to love something
that much so you can never be controlled.
It’s not a weakness. It’s your best strength.
In order to avoid her fears of being alone the woman may make efforts to keep her man close. It might be a criticism for going out with the boys for an evening. By discouraging him to do other things she is increasing their time together. If a woman engages in such efforts and is successful in controlling her man she will have influenced his behavior by her emotional reactions. With influence over his emotions she will have influence over what he does with his time. He will learn to avoid the activities that bring emotional reactions and criticism and do the things that she approves of. They will spend more time together which will help her to feel solid in the relationship. It also distracts herself from the fear of being alone. In one part of her mind she has helped their relationship, but she has unknowingly created a separate feeling of not being safe. When a woman sees that she can modify her man’s behavior she might perceive him as not being as strong. She will see him as someone that gives up his interests, runs around trying to make her happy. He has stopped being his authentic self and started being what she wants him to be. At some level she perceives him as no longer being his own man. She could perceive him as having weak character and could lose respect for him. More importantly she will not feel safe with a man she sees as having a weak character. Some women will conclude that if they can influence or control their man then other women will also be able to control and influence him as well. All of this adds up to losing respect and trust in the man. One assumption sometimes deep in the mind is that the stronger person controls the weaker person. If she can direct him then he must be weaker than her. This image of weakness is amplified if the woman already considers her self as weak to begin with. The loss of trust in her man’s strength may not be conscious to her, but at some level it affects her feeling of safety with him. From “Emotional Security” http://www.pathwaytohappiness.com/relationship_safety.htm
Consider how hard it is to change yourself
and you’ll understand what little chance
you have in trying to change others.
Some people act as though they believe that there is not enough love in the world to go around. They act as though they need to make sure that they are getting all your love and no one else is getting any of it as though if you love anyone else these controlling people will “miss out” on some of your love. In the past I put a lot of effort into trying to make these people feel like my love for them would never run out because I mistakenly believed that my love for them, could save them and if I could save them, they would love me back and that would save me. And at the same time it seems as though these controlling and manipulative people also believe and go to great length to communicate, that if you love yourself, you will be spending your love allowance on yourself instead of on them. Heaven forbid that happens! This “don’t love yourself” concept is taught in tons of ways always with the threat of becoming a horrible selfish person if you do anything to nurture or acknowledge your own value. They picked on the way that I dressed. They picked at the way I did my hair. They picked at me all the time to make sure that I was feeling bad about myself. To make sure that I was trying harder. To make sure that my self-esteem was kept low. To make sure that I was always questioning myself and not questioning them. And all of it was presented as thought their judgement was “for my own good”. That this “picking at me” and criticizing me was going to make me a better person. This grooming started young. I was ready to listen to all new controllers and manipulators that came into my life when I entered my adult years. Darlene Ouimet
Just because something isn’t a lie
does not mean that it isn’t deceptive.
A liar knows that he is a liar,
but one who speaks mere portions
of truth in order to deceive
is a craftsman of destruction.
Five tips for overcoming your own passive-aggressive behaviors:
1- Become aware of the underlying feelings causing your behavior
2- Become aware of the impacts of your behavior and how your desire to defeat others, get back at them or annoy them creates yet further uncomfortable feelings for yourself
3- Take responsibility for your actions and reactions
4- Try to not feel attacked when faced with a problem but instead take an overall objective view of the situation
5- Learn to be assertive in expressing yourself. You have a right to your thoughts and feelings so communicate them with honesty and truth and strengthen your relationships
Five tips for coping with the passive-aggressive behavior of others:
1- Become aware of how passive aggression operates and try to be understanding towards your partner
2- Explain to your partner how their behavior towards you is affecting you. Communicate calmly without blaming – i.e. talk about how you feel and what you think without using language that will inflame the situation more. For example you might say “I feel upset by your behavior” rather than “you’ve done this or that”.
3- Be aware of your responses to others and yourself– do not blame yourself for the behavior and reaction of others
4- Be honest about your part in the situation
5- If the aggressive behavior of others continues to affect you in a negative way, set clear boundaries around yourself – rules for what you will and won’t accept. Stay strong and focused and get on with your life in a positive way.
Andrea Harrn, http://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/counsellor-articles/what-is-passive-aggressive-behaviour
If you are carrying strong feelings
about something that happened in your past,
they may hinder your ability to live in the present.
Passive aggression might be seen as a defense mechanism that people use to protect themselves. It might be automatic and might stem from early experiences. What they are protecting themselves from will be unique and individual to each person; although might include underlying feelings of rejection, fear, mistrust, insecurity and/or low self-esteem. Patterns of unassertive and passive behavior may have been learned in childhood as a coping strategy possibly as a response to parents who may have been too controlling or not allowing their child to express their thoughts and feelings freely. To cope, a child might adopt a passive-aggressive behavior pattern. For example if a child was ridiculed, put-down or punished for openly expressing their feelings or disagreeing with their parents the child would learn to substitute open expression for passive resistance – agreeing with what mum or dad said in order to be a “good child” or not speaking out honestly or at all. If there was a consistent pattern within the family of punishment or rejection for asserting themselves the child would learn to become highly skilled at passively rebelling. An example of a child rebelling might be around toilet training, withdrawing from family conversation, choosing subjects at school to please parents and then not working hard, around eating and mealtimes – all causing worry and upset to the parents who may have no idea their behavior is a contributory cause to the problem. In the workplace a passive-aggressive employee or employer may use these techniques as a form of control and/or intimidation. The worker might sulk, make faces, scowl inwardly when given jobs to do or may agree politely and then take ages to do them. By doing so, he they are showing annoyance in the hope they will not be asked to do those tasks again. Employers can also use passive aggression when confronted with employee problems, turning a blind eye, not facing facts or dealing with genuine cases of bullying and intimidation. This avoidant behavior can be very damaging to individuals and teams of individuals within organizations. Andrea Harrn, http://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/counsellor-articles/what-is-passive-aggressive-behaviour
The more you hide your feelings,
the more they show.
The more you deny your feelings,
the more they grow.
- Non-Communication - when there is clearly something problematic to discuss
- Avoiding/Ignoring – when you are so angry that you feel you cannot speak calmly
- Evading problems and issues - burying an angry head in the sand
- Procrastinating - intentionally putting off important tasks for less important ones
- Obstructing – deliberately stalling or preventing an event or process of change
- Fear of Competition – avoiding situations where one party will be seen as better at something
- Ambiguity - being cryptic, unclear, not fully engaging in conversations
- Sulking - being silent, morose, sullen and resentful in order to get attention or sympathy.
- Chronic Lateness – a way to put you in control over others and their expectations
- Chronic Forgetting – shows a blatant disrespect and disregard for others to punish in some way
- Fear of Intimacy – trust issues with passive aggressive people and guarding against becoming too intimately involved or attached will be a way for them to feel in control of the relationship
- Making Excuses – always coming up with reasons for not doing things
- Victimization – unable to look at their own part in a situation will turn the tables to become the victim and will behave like one
- Self-Pity – the poor me scenario
- Blaming - rather than being able to take responsibility for your own actions or being able to take an objective view of the situation as a whole.
- Withholding - usual behaviours or roles (example sex, cooking and cleaning or making cups of tea, running a bath etc.) all to reinforce an already unclear message to the other party
- Learned Helplessness – where a person continually acts like they can’t help themselves – deliberately doing a poor job of something for which they are often explicitly responsible
Andrea Harrn, http://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/counsellor-articles/what-is-passive-aggressive-behaviour
The greatest challenge in life
is discovering who you really are
and second thing is
being happy with what you find.
Often times the dysfunctional man is repeating some of the behaviors of his parents. The behaviors of the codependent started off as defense mechanisms in order to protect him in the environment he was raised in. Unfortunately, when a person escapes from the destructive environment, he is left with a lot of unresolved issues. These issues tend to carry over into his later relationships if he does not resolve them. The symptoms of codependency in men are of a wide variety. They range from having the appearance of being a servant to having the appearance of selfishness and abusiveness. Often times, codependent men have poor communication skills. They are also insecure. They usually have low self-worth. Other codependency symptoms are a little less common among cases. One of the more common symptoms of codependency is controlling behaviors. Codependent people often try to control everything in their lives. http://about-addiction.com/addiction/dual-diagnosis/codependency/codependency-men/
When you are out of control,
someone is ready to take over.
If you think your wife is codependent, there’s a good chance you are, too. Often codependent men are attracted to women who are needy, demanding, jealous, or critical. Men become dependent on their wives’ approval, and then feel trapped by their manipulation, demands, or expectations. They’re unable to set boundaries and fear emotional retaliation and/or rejection, including withholding of sex. Their wives may be very emotional, providing a sense of aliveness to the relationship and compensating for the numbness many codependent men feel inside. In the beginning, a man can feel powerful, helping a needy girlfriend or wife and giving her attention or gifts. He conforms to her expectations, while being assured that she won’t abandon him, but eventually discovers that it’s never enough to satisfy her. . Fear of rejection and abandonment are powerful motivators for codependency, usually because of early emotional abandonment by a parent. Consequently, the men never leave – physically – but withdraw to the safety of a self-made emotional prison. After a while, they feel trapped, controlled, and resentful. They may use drugs or addictive behavior to manage anxiety and depression, while some look outside the marriage for validation. However, it’s not their wives that are the cause of their problem, it’s their codependency. Darlene Lancer, M.A., MFT, J.D.
More people would learn from their mistakes
if they weren’t so busy denying them.
Harold J. Smith
The psyche cannot tolerate a vacuum of love. In the severely abused or deprived child, pain, dis-ease, and violence rush in to fill the void. In the average person in our culture, who has been only “normally” deprived of touch, anxiety and an insatiable hunger for possessions replace the missing Eros. The child lacking a sense of welcome, joyous belonging, gratuitous security, will learn to hoard the limited supply of affection. According to the law of psychic compensation, not being held leads to holding on, grasping, addiction, possessiveness. Gradually, things replace people as a source of pleasure and security. When the gift of belonging with is denied, the child learns that love means belonging to. To the degree we are arrested at this stage of development, the needy child will dominate our motivations. Other people and things (and there is fundamentally no difference) will be seen as existing solely for the purpose of “my” survival and satisfaction. “Mine” will become the most important word. From “The Passionate Life: Stages of Loving” by Sam Keen
For God’s sake,
let’s take the word ‘possess’
and put a brick round its neck and drown it …
We can’t possess one another.
We can only give and hazard all we have.
Dorothy L. Sayers
The more we learn about mind-and-body the less I see addiction and codependency as a disease and the more I see them as natural, logical and very creative attempts to survive and/or medicate the emotional injuries caused by unmet childhood dependency needs or other dysfunctional relationship situations. There is a major difference between a disease and an injury; a disease is something you “catch” or mysteriously become afflicted with, while an injury is the result of something bad that happened to you – some kind of trauma. The survival skills learned by a child in order to adapt to and survive traumatic emotional injuries naturally result in an excessive need for control – something at the root of all addictions including codependence. However, the skills that were once natural, logical, and effective aids in surviving childhood emotional injuries, are not useful or effective as coping skills in healthy adult relationships. D. Carter
There is an ache in my heart
for the imagined beauty
of a life I haven’t had,
from which I had been locked out,
and it never goes away.