Codependency underlies all addictions. The core symptom of “dependency” manifests as reliance on a person, substance, or process (i.e, activity, such as gambling or sex addiction). Instead of having a healthy relationship with yourself, you make something or someone else more important. Over time, your thoughts, feelings, and actions revolve around that other person, activity, or substance, and you increasingly abandon your relationship with yourself. Abstinence or sobriety is necessary to recover from codependency. The goal is to bring your attention back to yourself, to have an internal, rather than external, “locus of control.” This means that your actions are primarily motivated by your values, needs, and feelings, not someone else’s. You learn to meet those needs in healthy ways. Perfect abstinence or sobriety isn’t necessary for progress, and it’s impossible with respect to codependency with people. You need and depend upon others and therefore give and compromise in relationships. It’s said that denial is the hallmark of addiction. This is true whether you’re an alcoholic or in love with one. Not only do codependents deny their own addiction – whether to a drug, activity, or person – they deny their feelings, and especially their needs, particularly emotional needs for nurturing and real intimacy. You may have grown up in a family where you weren’t nurtured, your opinions and feelings weren’t respected, and your emotional needs weren’t adequately met. Over time, rather than risk rejection or criticism, you learned to ignore your needs and feelings and believed that you were wrong. Some decided to become self-sufficient or find comfort in sex, food, drugs, or work. All this leads to low self-esteem. To reverse these destructive habits, you first must become aware of them. The most damaging obstacle to self-esteem is negative self-talk. Most people aren’t aware of their internal voices that push and criticize them — their “Pusher,” “Perfectionist,” and “Critic.” From an article By Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT http://psychcentral.com/lib/recovery-from-codependency/00014956
When you give another person
the power to define you,
then you also give them
the power to control you.
A Codependency is a relationship in which an otherwise mentally healthy person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected by an addiction or mental illness. In Codependent No More, author Melody Beattie asks: “Is someone else’s problem your problem? If, like so many others, you’ve lost sight of your own life in the drama of tending to someone else’s, you may be codependent.” Codependency is the tendency for the victim in an abusive relationship to develop dysfunctional patterns or habits in the process of trying to cope with a family member or partner who is abusive or neglectful or has an addiction. These patterns include denial of the problem, enabling or support of the abusive behavior, poor sense of self-worth, abandonment of personal goals or values and development of controlling or manipulative behaviors. Codependents are generally unsatisfied with the status quo, yet often fear the consequences of trying to make a change, of trying to detach or put a stop to the abuse .Codependence was first described as a problem observed in children of alcoholics, who developed distinctive patterns of denial, shame, avoidance, lack of boundaries, low self-worth and excessive sensitivity to the needs of others in an attempt to compensate for their parents’ disorders. These characteristics often carry over into adulthood and s-called “adult children” often find themselves in patterns of unstable social relationships. The terms “codependent” and “dysfunctional ” originally referred to families specifically affected by alcoholism. However, these terms have been popularly generalized to include any household situation involving a neglectful or abusive family member. Therefore, codependency often describes the characteristics of family members, spouses and partners of people who suffer from personality disorders and other mental illnesses. http://outofthefog.net/CommonNonBehaviors/Codependency.html
Life is not what
it’s supposed to be.
It’s what it is.
The way you cope
with it is what
makes the difference.
It’s often obvious that a needy, demanding woman who clings to a man has codependent tendencies. However, a relationship consists of two people, and HE is no less responsible. In fact, his behavior can also be labeled “codependent.” Two people who have codependent tendencies may act in opposite ways: While one is needy and drains her partner, the other may have an enlarged sense of responsibility to his partner, and is overly sensitive to her needs and demands. In fact, people with opposing codependent styles tend to attract each other. These opposing psychological profiles have been termed “takers” and “caretakers.” Codependent relationships are complicated, and they’re often characterized by manipulation, lack of boundaries, repressed emotions, emotional volatility, jealousy issues, verbal abuse, etc. Both partners tend to have complicated back-stories, which often serve to justify abnormal behavior. If you’re a man feeling stuck in a codependent relationship, realize that your happiness is worth the effort it takes to move on. You feel that you’re responsible for her, and it’s your job to make her happy and solve her problems You suppress your emotions and avoid confrontation You have the sense of sacrificing the life you want so that you can be with her and take care of her. You feel trapped at times, and have the sense that you are planning an eventual escape. You feel tremendous guilt at the thought of abandoning her. Being in a codependent relationship makes for a stressful and unhappy lifestyle. And yet, your avoidant tendencies may keep you from following through with a break up or separation. You may be planning to break up for a long time, but you just keep holding off — many men wait years, or even a lifetime, remaining in such a relationship. The longer you wait, and the more time you both invest, the more difficult it becomes. http://www.codependencyfreedom.com/codependency/for-men-11-signs-youre-in-a-codependent-relationship-and-how-to-get-out.html
Fear is the great
enemy of intimacy.
Fear makes us run away
from each other
or cling to each other
but does not create
Once you understand that you actively seek others out to either cater to you, or to cater to, you can start taking better care of your self, and begin attracting healthier people into your life. Most often two people who have found themselves in habitual patterns of codependent behavior and thinking, cannot make a relationship work. Although it is possible, the constant policing of one another’s thoughts can be maddening. Therapy is extremely helpful in trying to break the thought patterns associated with codependent thinking. Journaling is also a useful tool, because it helps keep awareness alive. In addition it is wise to spend time with people who are free of codependent issues, as they offer the best models for relationships to strive for. If you tend to assume the role of caretaker easily, be wary of those who try to coerce you into roles that require you to take care of others emotionally, psychologically, or financially. Any time someone pushes past a personal boundary you have set, chances are you might be engaging with another codependent. In any healthy relationship, freedom of expression is encouraged not discouraged. If you find you are feeling like someone’s parent in a love relationship, it is best to graciously move on. If you are a taker, own that role and begin to understand it is no one’s job to cater to your emotional whims. It is your responsibility alone to meet life head on and to grow as a self reliant individual. It is not enough to cling to others, and to guilt partners into being in a relationship with you. Decide it is no longer enough to be someone else’s project, and head off in search of your true self. A healthy relationship is one that feels like a great pair of comfortable shoes that feel like they were made just for you. Your feet are just happier in them. When relationships are right, they fit. When they don’t they’re as uncomfortable as a size 5 shoe on a size 10 foot. From an article by Lisa A. Romano http://www.examiner.com/article/codependency-and-how-it-destroys-relationships
with the hope
“out there” can
instantly fill up
To continue to open yourself up emotionally to an abusive or addicted person without seeing true change is foolish. You should not continue to set yourself up for hurt and disappointment. If you have been in an abusive relationship, you should wait until it is safe and until real patterns of change have been demonstrated before you go back. In that horribly rough, shaky, nerve-rattling stage of stepping out in the truth, many adult survivors will have strong physical reactions to what they are remembering or seeing in a new light. They will, in many cases, demonstrate the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. They have been locked in a false reality for so long…. they are bound to feel the physical pain, via headaches, stomach pains, panic attacks, etc. in looking at the truth of what is. (And all that is one of the many, many reasons we highly recommend therapy for all adult survivors of emotional child abuse.) Unable to endure the headaches and that terrible feeling of guilt, of being orphaned, many adult survivors hurry back. A professional therapist, however, may tell them to hold on. Wait. Give it time. You don’t hurry back to the abusers to stop having headaches or feeling bad. Go to a professional therapist. Even if you cannot afford regular visits, go when you can to the same one, who will know your history and will be able to guide you through everything. They will not be sentimental about what could have been and can remind you of what exactly you’d be hurrying back to. Get rid of the magical thinking— “I wish my parents had been loving!” or “Maybe my parents will love me this time!”— is a tremendous step towards becoming healthy once more. So, let yourself mourn what you didn’t have and mourn what you did have. You have the right to be sad. It’s all right. Let yourself be sad…. (Just make sure that the mourning doesn’t last for too long or become suicidal or hopelessness… Look to the present. Remind yourself of the gift that you’ve given yourself in facing the truth of your emotionally abusive childhood. You can no longer be held emotional hostage. You are free to be who God intended you to be, free to be your most authentic self. Instead of wanting to turn back to the past, focus on what you have today… and try and create a new life for yourself with friends who are emotionally healthy, loving, and kind… and be that to others, too. By Veronica Maria Jarski http://theinvisiblescar.wordpress.com/tag/adult-survivors-of-emotional-child-abuse-2/
Don’t turn your face away.
Once you’ve seen,
You can no longer act like you don’t know.
Open your eyes to the truth.
It’s all around you.
Don’t deny what the eyes
To your soul have revealed to you.
To many professionals in the treatment field and their clients, the term “codependency” can be confusing and unclear. Some clients even find the term offensive and/or say that it is a poor fit to describe them, according to Ann W. Smith MS, LPC, LMFT, NCC. Smith is the Executive Director of Breakthrough at Caron, which is a 5 ½ day residential personal growth workshop designed for those who are struggling with relationship patterns developed from early attachment injuries in core relationships. She explains the evolution of codependency starting in 1980 when the addiction field began to show interest in involving the family in addiction treatment. Soon after that time, Caron introduced a residential family program. She discusses the labels that were used before the term “codependency” came about. One of these labels was “co-alcoholic” and she says that this one didn’t stick because the term chemical dependency replaced alcoholism. Another label that was used early on was “chief enabler or ‘collateral,’” which were used for the spouse of an addict when their spouse was in treatment. As time went on, committees met and the terms “Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA)” and “codependency” began to emerge across the country around 1981. At the 1989 National Conference on Codependency, a commit of experts in the codependency field… came together to establish this definition: “Codependency is a pattern of painful dependence on compulsive behavior and on approval seeking, in an attempt to gain safety, identity and self-worth. Recovery is possible.” Although Smith was on the committee that developed this definition, she still felt that it was too general and that it couldn’t be applied to specific people. She explains the following definition of codependency that she created: “Codependency is a condition or state of being, that results from adapting to dysfunction (possibly addiction) in a significant other. Codependency is a learned response to stress which, over a person’s lifetime, can lead to the development of the following characteristics: External Focus, Repressed Feelings, Comfort with Crisis, Boundary Conflicts, Isolation, Stress related illness. By Shannon Brys, Associate Editor http://www.addictionpro.com/article/codependency-patterns-attachment
It’s hard to give up the self-esteem connected
to being codependent and appearing ‘right,’
which is probably a survival behavior learned
from growing up in a crazy family.
It feels like you will actually disappear.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with pleasing people, including ourselves. If we’re willing to make sacrifices for the sake of another, who are we to say that’s wrong? But the fact is, people pleasing isn’t about pleasing others, but fending off our fear of rejection. Those of us who would consider themselves people pleasers are generally individuals who feel the need to be accepted by the world around them. And not just a general acceptance, but that of each person they come in contact with. And to maintain this madness, we seek to please with abandon. One of the great misconceptions among people pleasers is this idea that we’re ‘good people’ who are just trying to make everybody happy. … it’s not so much our great concern for another human being, but our obsession with the way others may perceive us. As a result, we tend to say yes to everything and rarely stick up for ourselves. Even if someone blatantly wrongs us, we are usually the ones who absorb the hurt and then stand in the corner, fuming to ourselves. It’s not a pretty site. The fact is, when we try to please everybody, we end up pleasing nobody. Tired from the burnout that comes from the over extension of ourselves and frustrated by the fact that we keep letting others take advantage of us, we quickly become ineffective in helping others and often times end up resenting everyone around us. Then, when we finally run into a situation where our help is truly needed, we are too depleted to help out. Also, our ability to decipher a real need from that of someone trying to take advantage of our people pleasing nature, is quite skewed. In our minds, every ‘need’ is a requirement for us to act and in time, this wears us down to worthlessness. From an article by ‘Eric’ @ http://motivatethyself.com/overcoming-people-pleasing/
If you are busy pleasing everyone,
you are not being true to yourself.
When you’re homesick for a home you never had and sick from the one you did you can grow up feeling that you’re never good enough. Oh… the poor neurotic. Never good enough, and then when they are, they feel that they’ll be told to either keep it up or that it doesn’t make up for when they fell short or that they were just lucky. Even if they are not told, they can still hear those words in their head. At the core of many neurotics is an inability to comfort, calm, reassure or feel good about themselves and needing those to come from someone else. When they were young and that someone else only offered that comfort, calming, reassurance and approval if the young neurotic acted and behaved in a particular way, that can be a recipe for a lifetime of anxiety. When they did what was expected, the comfort, calming, reassurance and approval came (and rarely effusively); when they didn’t, it was withheld. This is what is often referred to as “conditional love.” The tragic thing about this is that the young neurotic, in order to receive the comfort, calming, reassurance and approval, must conform to the psychological and emotional needs of their caregivers at the cost of their own developing self as well as a piece of their soul. When they don’t do good enough according to what they believe their parent(s) expect, they feel a combination of guilt at having done something wrong and then fear by letting their parent(s) down who are often living a bit vicariously through their child. Their fear comes from feeling that having let their parent(s) down they are not just disappointed, but angry. Deep down they feel that they will lose a connection with that parent(s) if they disappoint them; they feel that if they anger them, it will completely sever the connection. And if that happens they will then feel alone, vulnerable, not enough by themselves and in a state of near panic. They need to realize that their parent(s) not being capable of loving unconditionally (possibly because of what they never received from their parents) doesn’t mean that the neurotic person is unlovable or that they are unworthy of being loved unconditionally. Furthermore, they should do their best to develop relationships with people who are capable of loving unconditionally. Ironically, they are often attracted to people who, like their parent(s), love conditionally, hoping this time they will receive the love that they continue to need inside to feel complete from someone similar to the one(s) they didn’t receive it from. From an article by Mark Goulston, M.D. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-goulston-md/neurotic_b_1604624.html
The moment someone tells you
that you’re not good enough for them,
is the moment you realize that they
were never good enough for you.
Understanding the origin of your unhealthily dependent relationships also figures high in dismantling them and steering you towards a mutually satisfying connection to someone you can trust and who can trust you. Sometimes this means looking into the past at the family situation in which you learned this behavior. And sometimes that’s painful. But like with any emotional injury, it won’t heal until you explore and understand its origin. Learning to balance give and take, developing a sense of autonomy, and being able to set limits or boundaries is a critical part of a successful and rewarding relationship. If you are someone who thinks you can’t get through without someone else helping you, discovering that indeed you can will be liberating. If you are someone who is too eager and ready to “help” someone else (a partner, a child, a friend) because of your experience and knowledge about what’s best for them, you can start by pulling back and allowing others to make their own mistakes. You won’t save them from themselves by always coming to the rescue. When you find yourself becoming resentful about all the help you’re giving (at your own expense), you can learn to say no. Being withdrawn or detached, or being with someone who is withdrawn or detached, presents its own set of challenges. If you never ask for help, you can come to understand that doing so does not mean you are helpless, and does not cast shame on you. It doesn’t mean you’re weak or bad or unaccomplished. It just means that in this particular situation, you could use a little help. No one is perfect, we’re just human. Being with someone who is unconnected and not able ever to ask for help will require a lot of patience and understanding on your part of just how difficult and shameful that feels. Being able to feel, and honestly and openly express your emotions, as well as take responsibility for them will enrich your personal relationships beyond measure. Being able to lean on someone else yet know you are still yourself with your own desires and capacities is a goal to aspire to. Balancing closeness with independence, trust and vulnerability with confidence and commitment will make for rewarding relationships. If you keep finding yourself in situations like those just described, those patterns are probably pretty ingrained. Turning them around won’t be quick or easy, but it can happen. Therapy can help. From an on-line article by Katherine Rabinowitz, LP, M.A., NCPsyA http://www.therapycanwork.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=49&Itemid=99
Guilt is a destructive
Codependents usually haven’t experienced enough sense of mastery in their lives to give them a life-long sense of competency and strength. They are lost and confused. They are looking for someone to give them direction. They just haven’t quite found their true place in the world yet. They are usually in the wrong place, with the wrong person, at the wrong time for the wrong reasons. When a Codependent starts a romantic relationship they tend to put too many eggs in that one basket. They invest their whole lives in a guy (girl) who ultimately turns out to be an addict, a betrayer, a little boy (a little girl), a rager, a controller, weak, lost, little, and otherwise not coming as originally advertised. Codependents have big hearts – too big. Codependents get lost for decades in the meeting of others needs while ignoring what their own hearts were trying to say to them. They are rest starved, fun starved and inspiration starved. They need to learn to be selfish in a healthy way. They are parched ground lacking in color and joy. The roots of Codependency are always in childhood. Controlling, critical, abandoning, abusive and shaming parents and caretakers inflict the wounds in the tender psyches of children that result later in life as the low self-esteem, powerlessness, voicelessness, other centeredness, low entitlement, passiveness and depression that we correctly call Codependency. Many times this damage can seem subtle during the childhood itself. If it is all that you have ever known then what do you have to compare it to? In a healthy family children and teenagers are encouraged to have a voice. They are encouraged to speak up and make their cases. That is a skill that they will need in relationships, in school and on the job down the road. In a healthy family a child gets the focus and the attention and the care that they need. The focus isn’t on dad’s alcoholism or mom’s depression. The parents have the ability to really be there for the kids consistently. Parents can give praise directly to the children and they are lavish with it. Home is a safe and a predictable place. The child does not have to grow up too quickly. They can just focus on being a kid. They don’t become the emotional caretakers of their parents. The message a Codependent gets growing up is that they aren’t quite good enough. They don’t quite rate dad’s attention or his time. They don’t quite measure up to mom’s expectations. They need to try harder. They need to eliminate the self and anything positive that the self could have done for them. They need to live for others. From “Codependency – A Serious Disease of Lost, Confused, Undeveloped and Other-Centered Selves” by Mark Smith http://www.familytreecounseling.com/fullarticle.php?aID=278
If you’re not comfortable
enough with yourself
or with your own truth
when entering a relationship,
then you’re not ready
for that relationship