In an on-line article* a few years ago Melanie Evans wrote: Co-dependency is a dis-ease of being outer-focused rather than being able to healthily detach from people and situations to focus on and take care of Self. Co-dependency is an unhealthy dependency on outer circumstances. Rather than take responsibility for their own lives, co-dependents try to control events and people through granting compassion, advice giving, lecturing, helplessness, emotional blackmail, manipulation, guilt or anger. Co-dependents feel empty on the inside and try to fill this emptiness with things’ outside of themselves. In most cases co-dependents are trying to re-write the scripts of their painful childhoods and will re-attract the same pain over and over. Co-dependents often try to make safe and trustworthy environments with unsafe and untrustworthy individuals and circumstances. In just those six lines; a single paragraph, I find the shortest, most clear glimpse of codependency I have yet to come across. This is especially true of the last line: Co-dependents often try to make safe and trustworthy environments with unsafe and untrustworthy individuals and circumstances.
When there is no enemy within,
the enemies outside cannot hurt you.
Originally posted June 29, 2012
In addition, to distorting our partners, we sometimes provoke them into giving us a certain response. For example, my friend who wanted to go on a weekend getaway recognized that, although her husband prefers to live more spontaneously and not spend too much time on practicalities, she would often insist on talking to him about travel plans, home renovations and financial matters well in advance of when was necessary. She soon realized that she didn’t even care all that much about these things, but something was compelling her to push her husband away by bringing up topics that would distance him from her. By “nagging” at her husband, not only was she preventing more personal and meaningful interactions between them, but she was provoking him to lose interest in certain activities, which then made her feel critical of him. We must always be aware of how we select, provoke and distort our partners to fill roles that recreate our past. The better we understand ourselves, the better able we are to choose partners who support us just as we support them, as the unique, complex, and independent individuals we are. We can then interrupt patterns that would prevent us from “seeing” our partners — misinterpreting their actions to fit an old feeling about ourselves. Lastly, we can then be careful not to provoke our partners to act out in ways that hurt us, them and naturally, the relationship. By remaining wary of these negative influences, we give our relationships the best chance possible of lasting long and making us happy. Dr. Lisa Firestone http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-firestone/relationship-advice_b_824879.html
When you stop living your life
based on what others think
of you real life begins.
At that moment,
you will finally see
the door of
Shannon L. Alder
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
Codependency is rampant in this society. Like cancer is to the body, codependency is to relationships. Codependency refers to a state of being that is centered around the unconscious desires an individual has towards catering to the needs of others at the expense of themselves. People with unclear boundaries, who lack the ability to say “no” often times are victims of codependent thinking. Codependency shows up in relationships that include partners suffering an addiction to substance abuse, as well as other forms of addiction. When people are in love with alcoholics, they tend to find themselves worrying obsessively about their addicted loved one. They worry about them physically, financially and emotionally. They worry about them so often, that they lose touch with their own needs because so much of their attention has been paid to trying to fix the alcoholic. The alcoholic is dependent upon the alcohol, and the alcoholics partner is dependent upon the fixing the alcoholic. Whenever people find themselves trying to fix someone else, to the point where they have lost touch with their own needs, they are engaging in codependent behavior. On the other side of the equation, whenever people behave like victims to get their selfish needs met, they are engaging in codependent behavior. When people are unable to be honest in relationships, because they fear hurting the feelings of the other person, they are engaging in codependent behavior. Any behavior that disallows the full, honest expression of one human being to another, can be considered codependent in nature. From an article by Lisa A. Romano http://www.examiner.com/article/codependency-and-how-it-destroys-relationships
The only person that can ever
truly make you happy is yourself.
Stop depending on everyone else.
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.
A too large dose of anxiety will cheat you out of the beginnings of things. A way out of anxiety is to risk trying new things. Try to develop new ways to follow your curiosity. Consider the curiosity of a toddler. How can you borrow this kind of wonder? A small child embraces adventures naturally – then come all the inhibitions. A real adventurer supports his or her own unease. Remember that anxiety requires too much caution, which means not letting things happen to you. It can be good to risk running into a little bit of trouble. A fixed idea of what is proper can be paralyzing. A true definition of responsibility is to respond to the situation in any way that is life enhancing. Anxiety is the opposite, it is life restricting. According to Laura Perls, responsibility is the ability to respond. For therapy to be successful it should increase your range of response and ability. Many things can create anxiety. Genetics, an anxious parent, or early childhood loss all can leave the legacy of learning to listen to the outside world instead of the inside self. So begin by finding your own voice. The most important step anyone can take is to get off the bunny slope and move on into facing the anxiety. Work to seek out the discomfort and then take care of yourself to make it bearable. If you learn to tolerate the fears that are exaggerated in anxiety, then you can stop the slippery slope into depression. Value awkwardness because it is part of all beginnings. Awkwardness offers you relief and room to move. Allowing awkwardness from yourself means you are more likely to find your own voice. Remember the first time you learned to ride a bike? Allowing yourself the horrible moments of a new beginning, ended up in a lifetime skill that anxiety could have cheated you out of. From “Anxiety, Control & Codependency” by Rhoda Mills Sommer, L.C.S.W. http://therapyideas.net/anxiety.htm
Striving for excellence
striving for perfection
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