Children of dysfunctional families come to believe they are responsible for their parents’ problems. As a result they develop low self-esteem, believing themselves to be incompetent or undeserving of love because they have failed their troubled parents. In other words, they internalize their parents’ problems as their own. As such, they develop unrealistic expectations about what is and isn’t their responsibility, and about what they can and can’t control in relationships. Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families carry these distorted beliefs into adulthood. They feel over-responsible for everyone around them, including spouses, children, in-laws, and co-workers. They perceive the problems of others as their own – just as they did with their parents’ problems. They are riddled with anxiety, stress, and guilt in their relationships. They ignore their own needs, feelings, and problems, and, thus, become depressed and resentful. Ultimately, they feel like failures – just as in childhood – because their goal of solving everyone’s problems is unobtainable. Codependency becomes an addiction when codependents subconsciously seek out troubled individuals as a way to avoid dealing with their own problems. By compulsively trying to “fix” an alcoholic, a codependent can feel, by comparison, like a healthy person with no problems. Yet, if the alcoholic goes away, the codependent will compulsively seek out another troubled person to “fix” in order to avoid his or her own feelings of low self-esteem and inadequacy. Like any addiction, codependency stymies personal growth as the codependent uses it to avoid dealing with emotional pain just as the alcoholic uses alcohol to avoid dealing with emotional pain. Codependents are generally nice individuals who are very stressed from carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. They are perceptive of others but not at all perceptive of themselves. Therapy with codependents involves teaching self-care skills, and most importantly, convincing them they are not selfish, or in danger, for choosing to take care of themselves. http://serenityonlinetherapy.com/codependency.htm
One’s dignity may be assaulted,
vandalized and cruelly mocked,
but it can never be taken away
unless it is surrendered.
Michael J. Fox