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
“Codependent” is a word that comes up frequently… Being dependent in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s a component of healthy relationships. Some people fear dependency, interpreting it as a sign of weakness or helplessness, or out of a fear of intimacy. In healthy relationships, this is not the case. It is altogether possible to be an autonomous person and yet be able to be dependent on another. If you exhibit healthy dependency you are willing to admit the need for others in your life, and to let them need you. After all, we all start out life as completely dependent on our caretakers. If we grew up in a family that encouraged a sense of autonomy and independent growth, with parents who praised our achievements and showed us love, we will reach adulthood with a sense of security about ourselves and our internal worth and our ability to move through the world as successful people, in whatever way we define that for ourselves. Setting emotional boundaries, giving someone space (and taking it for ourselves) is acceptable. We can allow people to be who they are, not who we want them to be. We understand that we can’t change other people, and balance feelings of closeness with feelings of separateness. Yet we also know how to care for others and let them care for us – we’re able to ask for help when we need it. In other words, it’s ok to need and be needed, because we know and feel good about who we are independently of another person if that person happens not to be around. We are able to form healthily interdependent relationships without losing our sense of self. Sometimes things don’t go the way described above, and what’s experienced growing up is criticism, rejection, conditional love (often based on achievement that validates the parents’, not the child’s, sense of self-worth), over-dependence promoted as valuable, making it impossible to feel adequate without another person around to shore up self-worth. In this scenario you are unable to take responsibility for your own sense of adequacy. You expect your good feelings about yourself to be validated from outside yourself – usually from another person. You feel weak and vulnerable. You depend on someone else to feel secure, comforted, nurtured, supported, lovable, or worthy. You can’t make a decision without the approval of the other person. Your relationships tend to be enmeshed rather than engaged, and the other person in your relationship probably complains about feeling suffocated. More than likely you’ve been called “clingy.” Since it’s hard to set your own agenda, you’re often at a loss, looking to the other person to fill in what’s missing for you. 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
If you need encouragement,
praise, pats on the back
then you make
everybody your judge.
Boundaries are sort of an imaginary line between you and others. It divides up what’s yours and somebody else’s, and that applies not only to your body, money and belongings, but also to your feelings, thoughts and needs. That’s especially where codependents get into trouble. They have blurry or weak boundaries. They feel responsible for other people’s feelings and problems or blame their own on someone else. Some codependents have rigid boundaries. They are closed off and withdrawn, making it hard for other people to get close to them. Sometimes, people flip back and forth between having weak boundaries and having rigid ones. A consequence of poor boundaries is that you react to everyone’s thoughts and feelings. If someone says something you disagree with, you either believe it or become defensive. You absorb their words, because there’s no boundary. With a boundary, you’d realize it was just their opinion and not a reflection of you and not feel threatened by disagreements. By Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT http://psychcentral.com/lib/2012/symptoms-of-codependency/
People who violate
They steal time
that doesn’t belong to them.
Elizabeth Grace Saunders
One of the negative emotional habits that codependents develop is categorical thinking. Everything is black and white with no shades in between. This always/never way of thinking leads them to over-react in social situations. Roger, for example, heard that some of the members of his Sunday school class were dissatisfied with his teaching methods. Instead of consulting with them on how to make the class more meaningful, he resigned and joined another class. Another childlike behavior of codependents is personalization – interpreting everything that is said and done in their immediate environment as if it were directed at them. This creates a paranoid perspective, which leads to defensiveness, hostility, and isolation. At a meeting with his prayer group, Mark questioned the unwitting use of sexist language that had begun to occur. Another member of the group, realizing that he was guilty, assumed that Mark was chiding him personally. He took offense and dropped out of the group. A third habit many codependents acquire is what I call obsessive over-analyzing. The mind goes round and round in circles until the emotional system either explodes or shuts down as a result of the overwhelming anxiety that is generated. Another emotional habit typical of codependents is exaggerating or “awfulizing”. Children who have grown up in addictive or traumatized family systems learn to expect the worst. They are constantly waiting for the other shoe to fall. In adulthood, they are prone to place the worst possible interpretation on every event. They see neutral or even positive situations as negative, and they anticipate disaster. This expectation often sets off an emotional chain reaction that creates the very thing they most fear. People who are “stuck” in these immature emotional habits consider them normal. They don’t know any other way to think/believe/behave. Such individuals are not at fault! They need gentle and respectful guidance. http://www.thebridgetorecovery.com/overcoming-codependency.html
The consequences of your denial
will be with you for a lifetime
and will be passed down
to the next generations.
Break your Silence on Abuse!
Patty Rase Hopson
You criticize or micro-manage your partner. If you’re always concerned with some aspect of your partner’s personality or appearance, don’t look at them — look at yourself. People who are in love overlook minor annoyances and see the bigger picture. You compare your partner to others. When you love someone, you don’t compare him or her to others. If you find yourself doing this, you should re-evaluate your relationship. You try to change your partner. Often we fall in love with people who don’t suit us. If you find that you’re constantly trying to change your partner, it may be time to move on. You don’t laugh anymore. Humor is something that all relationships need. If you no longer find his jokes funny, or you can’t have lighthearted conversations, it may be a sign that the relationship has lost its zing. You’re doing all the giving (or all the getting). Relationships are about mutual benefit. If one partner is benefiting over the other, the relationship is unhealthy. Your friends no longer like being around you when you’re with your partner. Your friends may like your partner, but they no longer like the affect your partner has on you. Dr. Northrup says when a relationship’s not right, our friends tell us the truth and often are the first to see when a relationship turns sour. You no longer feel good about yourself. Think about how it felt when you first fell in love with your partner. If this feeling is lacking, you may want to look at your relationship. No matter how appropriate it is to leave a relationship, the loss of any significant relationship can feel like a death, says Christiane Northrup, M.D., author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom. You have to feel the sadness and grieve fully for what might have been, adds Dr. Northrup. You can’t skip from, or otherwise hide from the pain if you’re to emerge at the next stage free to develop. http://health.howstuffworks.com/relationships/advice/when-is-it-time-to-leave-the-relationship.htm
The end of a relationship is not always a failure.
Sometimes all the love in the world is not enough
to save something. In these cases, it is not a matter
of fault from either person. Some things cannot be,
it’s as simple as that.