Our families helped shape our attitudes about emotions, our abilities to identify emotions, our ways of interpreting events, and our ways of expressing emotions. If you are having difficulties in any of these processes and are trying to change them, you may find it helpful to consider what you learned about them from your family. Many people do not recall being taught “family rules” concerning emotions, but such teachings occurred, whether directly or subtly. A subtle example might be where a parent distanced him/herself from you or left the room whenever you got angry, thus indicating that expressions of anger were unacceptable. In other families a parent may yell, “Don’t raise your voice at me,” suggesting a rule against the child’s expressing anger, but subtly conveying the rule that expressions of parental anger are permissible. Identifying your family’s rules can help you change the ways you experience and express your emotions. Some common examples of problematic family rules include:
- Always treat other people’s feelings as more important than your own.
- Never do anything that might cause dissension or negative feelings for someone else.
- Don’t express anger.
- Use anger to get attention.
- Ignore your feelings, or better still, don’t feel.
- Don’t trust others with your feelings; keep them to yourself.
- Never trust your feelings; trust only your logic.
- Be happy all the time.
As a child growing up you may not have been able to experience or express your emotions in ways different than those prescribed by your family. As an adult you have more options, including replacing those rules which are not helpful. http://www.counselingcenter.illinois.edu/self-help-brochures/self-awarenessself-care/experiencing-and-expressing-emotions/
All parents damage their children.
It cannot be helped.
Youth, like pristine glass,
absorbs the prints of its handlers.
Some parents smudge, others crack,
a few shatter childhoods
completely into jagged
little pieces, beyond repair.
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.
If you’re in a codependent relationship with a controlling or needy woman, you might find that the relationship is especially restrictive. Some common traits of these relationships include:
- You have to always let her know where you are
- When you’re out, you have to speak on the phone multiple times a day
- You are discouraged from keeping female friends
- She takes an active dislike of some of your friends and/or family, and feels offended that you would have them as part of your life
- She attempts to control your internet usage, or monitors your email and other online communications (Facebook, etc.)
- She shows excessive jealousy
- She has difficulty letting petty issues go, and insists that you both talk about them at length
- She mistrusts you and casts a suspicious eye, even if you’ve done nothing wrong
- She’s often critical of your behavior
- You find yourself often “walking on eggshells” around her
- Your friends tell you that you shouldn’t put up with her, but you feel the need to stay
- You can’t speak your mind because you’re too afraid of how she’ll react
- You’ve considered breaking up for a long time, but you don’t want to break her heart
- You feel that she may not be able to live without you, or you’ve tried to break up and she threatened drastic action (quitting her job, hurting herself, etc.)
These are just a few possible indicators of a codependent relationship, and by no means is an exhaustive list. Relationships should be places of comfort and acceptance, and they should be avenues to expanding your horizons, not restricting them. Relationships should add joy to one’s life, and though they often hit rough patches, a relationship shouldn’t be a constant burden. Codependent relationships can be so stressful and restrictive that the men involved often reach a boiling point, blowing-up at their partner. It’s like a release valve, and after the pressure dissipates a bit, they fall right back into the pattern. By Michael S. Freeman http://ezinearticles.com/?Men,-Are-You-in-a-Codependent-Relationship-With-a-Needy,-Controlling,-Or-Emotionally-Volatile-Woman?&id=2220700
Women always worry
about the things
that men forget;
men always worry
about the things
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Treating Codependency is not something a doctor does to or for a ‘patient’. It is more like having diabetes. The patient has to learn how to take care of themselves every day for the rest of their lives. Recovery starts when a Codependent understands and has insight into their condition. It takes hold when they understand that they have never been victimized in their marriage. They arranged the right marriage for themselves in order to work on their unresolved childhood issues of not having enough power, not being heard, not being good enough, not being taken seriously, not getting enough attention, not being nurtured, etc. I always recommend that my new Codependent client read Melody Beattie’s classic book on the subject Codependent No More. Then I almost always strongly encourage them to join one of our Codependency Recovery groups. Group is like the gym. It is where a Codependent goes to lift weights and get stronger. I will talk more about group in a later chapter, but Group therapy rocks – it is inexpensive, weekly, powerful, fun, insight building and affirming. In my practice the wife is many times the Codependent person and she comes with her husband for couples sessions as well as attending the group sessions without him. In the couple work with a husband who is perhaps not in as much pain or in a place of having much enlightenment about his own issues the Codependent needs to come prepared to work hard at naming the issues that hurt her in the marriage. Actually bringing in a written list is a very good idea. It is a safe environment because the therapist won’t allow reactivity, control, manipulation, defensiveness, blaming, rage, massive denial or shaming to happen without it being named and quickly stopped. From an article by Mark Smith http://www.familytreecounseling.com/fullarticle.php?aID=278
It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’
I do not agree. The wounds remain.
In time, the mind, protecting its sanity,
covers them with scar tissue
and the pain lessens.
But it is never gone.
Codependents have big hearts – too big. They rescue men, children, puppies, strangers, neighbors and friends. Their first thought is ‘what does my husband (wife) or my kids need, what will work best for them’. They do not think about their own needs enough. A huge part of their Recovery process is learning to take good care of their own needs. Codependents get lost for decades in the meeting of others needs while ignoring what their own hearts were trying to say to them. Codependents many times don’t have much going on in the hobby department. They have no time devoted to what makes themselves happy. Their lives aren’t really about 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. Codependents are way too passive and powerless. That is the deal that they choose. They pick controlling men (women) to marry. That was always the deal. Codependents do not know how to pleasantly set boundaries with consequences and teeth. They might lose they tempers from time to time, but then they go back to being too passive. It is their nature. Arguing with their controlling, defensive husband (wife) is like trying to argue with a brick wall. Codependents are voiceless. They seldom get heard by the people that they really need to get heard by. They are riding in a runaway van that their unhealthy husbands (wives) are… driving. It seems unfair but it is not. It is the deal that was struck from the very first date. From an article by Mark Smith http://www.familytreecounseling.com/fullarticle.php?aID=278
To be yourself in a world
that is constantly trying
to make you something else
is the greatest accomplishment.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
There are many definitions used to talk about codependency today. The original concept of codependency was developed to acknowledge the responses and behaviors people develop from living with an alcoholic or substance abuser. A number of attributes can be developed as a result of those conditions. However, over the years, codependency has expanded into a definition which describes a dysfunctional pattern of living and problem-solving developed by family rules. One of many definitions of codependency is: a set of maladaptive, compulsive behaviors learned by family members in order to survive in a family which is experiencing great emotional pain and stress. Maladaptive means an inability for a person to develop behaviors which get needs met. Compulsive means acting in a way that goes against one’s conscious desires in which to behave. As adults, codependent people have a greater tendency to get involved in “toxic relationships“, in other words with people who are perhaps unreliable, emotionally unavailable, or needy. And the codependent person tries to provide and control everything within the relationship without addressing their own needs or desires; setting themselves up for continued unfulfillment. Even when a codependent person encounters someone with healthy boundaries, the codependent person still operates in their own system; they’re not likely to get too involved with people who have healthy boundaries. This of course creates problems that continue to recycle; if codependent people can’t get involved with people who have healthy behaviors and coping skills, then the problems continue into each new relationship. Generally, if you’re feeling unfulfilled consistently in relationships, you tend to be indirect, don’t assert yourself when you have a need, if you’re able to recognize you don’t play as much as others. http://reconciliationinc.com/individual-family-counseling/screenings-and-assessments/codependency/
… about people
and problems doesn’t help.
It doesn’t solve problems,
it doesn’t help other people,
and it doesn’t help us.
It is wasted energy.
I have discovered a stark contrast between what each sex thinks the opposite sex wants from them, and what the opposite sex really does want. What women think men want from them causes women to have resentment and anger toward men, and feel hopeless about ever developing a wonderful, warm, romantic partnership. What men think women want from them causes them much of the same feelings and frustration. The sad part is that it does not have to be this way, if only we would realize that both men and women are human beings first and pretty much want the same thing. I asked a number of men and women who are actively involved in personal growth and development what they want from a partner in order to build a great relationship. You will find their answers unexpected. Honest communication is top priority for men. They want a woman who answers questions honestly, and perhaps even volunteers information. They want a woman who confidently asks for her wants and needs to be met. They want a woman who can see the truth and tell it like it is while communicating with kindness. Men want a woman who can communicate without being too critical, who cares about preserving his and her dignity. Women think men want them to be superficial, to keep quiet about their needs or wants, and never to ask for anything. Women think men believe them to be too needy and too sensitive, and that men simply want women to get over it. Some women believe they do not have the permission to tell it like it is, that they will be rejected for speaking up. Great men want and need straightforward, courageous communication without anger or criticism. One way to attract a great man and build a satisfying relationship is to learn how to communicate your truth and needs effectively. Men want what women want — a whole partner. One powerful way to attract a great man and build a vibrant relationship is to create a full, rewarding life for your own fulfillment. Men want no manipulation of any kind. They do not want to read their partner’s mind or try to interpret signals. They do not want to be forced to move faster in a relationship than they are ready. They do not want to be manipulated into taking all the blame for things gone wrong. They do not want to be on the receiving end of game playing. Women think men want little or no communication, and the only way to get needs met is through manipulation. Women think men either need or want to be reminded that the relationship needs to move forward. Women think men don’t want or value praise and acknowledgment, and so tend to only verbalize criticism. From an article by Rinatta Paries http://powertochange.com/sex-love/menwant/
Men and women
play the same game
but with different rules.
Looking at codependency therapy, “family involvement is key,” according to Smith (Ann W. Smith MS, LPC, LMFT, NCC). She says that “the addiction was not caused by the family, but it thrives in a painful system.” She then goes on to explain the Attachment Theory Perspective, saying, “Every human being adapts to some degree in an effort to sustain emotional attachment.” She notes that “anxiety increases when we don’t have a secure and consistent connection as children” and goes on to explain three factors that determine how a person adapts and tries to maintain that connection: Temperament, Birth order and Degree of stress or trauma. If a first-born child is born exhibiting traits of compassion or a “Leader Gene,” that child will most likely demonstrate a natural fear response to move toward painful situations to try to help. Smith says this side of the spectrum is called “Anxious Attachment Style.” On the other side of the spectrum, children that are born second, third or fourth and exhibit traits of an extrovert or independent spirit, may tend to leave the situation when anxiety increases. A child in this same birth order category that shows traits of an introvert may withdraw into themselves when anxiety increases. Either one of these is known as the “Avoidant Attachment Style” as they pull away from conflict. Smith also touches on insecure attachment and says that these patterns often emerge without conscious awareness. “They are stuck in patterns that they have no awareness of and they end up not knowing themselves at all,” she explains. Attachment injury, she says, occurs when a person feels abandoned or betrayed at key moments where comfort and connection are important. By Shannon Brys, Associate Editor http://www.addictionpro.com/article/codependency-patterns-attachment
Behavior is a mirror
in which every one
displays his own image
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
A marriage is a living family system. Like all living things, it can get infected with toxic agents that result in its death. Immunities are what combat potential infectious agents. I call these potentially fatal–to-your-marriage phenomena the 3 A’s: addictions, affairs, and anger. Almost all folks from time to time get impulses to do things that their head would say are out-of-bounds. Drinking a bit too much, getting a bit too friendly with someone of the other sex when your love has already been committed elsewhere, and speaking harshly when a cooperative voice would have been preferable are mistakes. Mistakes are for learning. Mistakes like these create feelings of guilt and regret Those are the signs that it’s time for figuring out what went wrong, a totally genuine apology, and learning. The learning is the basis for building an immunity. A small dose of a toxic phenomenon can strengthen your immune system’s ability to resist the sexual-drinking-anger impulses that might otherwise grow increasingly toxic until they get you in trouble. A vaccinated relationship is likely to grow ever stronger and more loving over time. By contrast, repeatedly making the same mistakes instead of using small incidents as a vaccination against larger problems can lead to one of the 3 ‘A’s’. The 3 ‘A’ mistakes can get you fired from the job of spouse. Alcoholism, affairs and anger, in addition to wrecking your marriage, can have profoundly negative impacts on your children. Modeling addictions, affairs and anger teaches your kids that this is what adults do. At the same time, addictive, sexually unfaithful and excessively angry behaviors teach your kids that attachments are unreliable and unsafe, making your kids less able to establish secure positive relationships as they reach adulthood. By clinical psychologist, marriage counselor and author Susan Heitler, Ph.D. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/resolution-not-conflict/201110/resisting-the-3-main-temptations-destroy-marriages
A successful marriage
in love many times,
always with the same person.
True communication spans far beyond spoken words. It’s verbal and mental, as well as even physical. More than half of the failed relationships out there, including your own, are due to the fact that there was a severe lack of communication between the two of you. In order to have a long and lasting relationship with someone, you must have excellent communication skills. You must be able to convey your emotions and your thoughts, as well as being able to absorb your partner’s emotions and thoughts. Communication is definitely not a one-way street. The “phone-lines” must run both ways. You could sit your partner down and talk to him/her all day long about how you feel, and about where you think this relationship is going. But if you don’t LISTEN TO THEM, than all of your words are meaningless. Mainly because they know you aren’t willing to listen to them, and you will not hear them out because you are too involved with yourself to allow anyone else to join in on the conversation. The art of listening is probably even more important than the art of talking. You will learn and grow far more in your relationships if you would sit down and listen to your partner, instead of talking and voicing all of your opinions at once. Don’t get me wrong; it is very important that you do voice your opinions. But you must listen to THEIR opinions as well, and take them into consideration. If you feel that you are not hearing from your partner, or they aren’t “communicating” with you then more than likely they are, but you just aren’t listening correctly. Some people don’t communicate with words, they communicate through actions. Which, if you pay close enough attention, are far more incisive into what they want to say. But the problem is, most of us don’t pay close enough attention. By Prior Aphter http://voices.yahoo.com/why-relationships-fail-due-lack-communication-10023.html?cat=41
The most important thing
is hearing what isn’t said.