WHAT IS CODEPENDENCY?

People sometimes think that codependency is about depending too much on other people. While codependents frequently give others too much power, it is much more about being addicted to the addict’s crazy attitudes and behavior. A “Co-addict” is like a co-pilot: They keep the plane of addiction in the air, making great speed but with little direction, using the co-addiction as a way to change their feelings of anxiety, fear, powerlessness, shame, guilt, loneliness and the list goes on.  Here are some questions and ideas that will help you understand the problem of codependency:

 

* Do you struggle to say no?

* Have you always felt like a DOOR-MAT?

* Do you experience life as all or nothing?

* Are you a control freak, or feel out of control?

* Do you run on ADRENALIN and feel flat if you stop?

* Have you lost your passion and sometimes feel numb?

* Do you attract people who are either “NEEDY and engulfing, or who fear intimacy and are emotionally unavailable?

* Are you still waiting for your partner to change?

* Do you feel ALONE, even though you have lots of people around you?

* Are you in the grips of any addiction?

* Are you in a relationship with an alcoholic / drug addict, gambling addict, or sex addict?

* Do you have an eating disorder?

* Does a little chaos, noise or clutter start to drive you nuts?
 

IF YOU ANSWERED “YES” TO ANY OF THESE QUESTIONS YOU MAY BE SUFFERING FROM ONE OF OUR SOCIETY’S MOST UNRECOGNISED Illnesses.

 

Co-dependency is a state of dis-ease that originates from the abandonment of the authentic self in order to survive within a dysfunctional family, work or social system.

 

As children, we are naturally egocentric and have boundless energy. We need both qualities to do the demanding work of growing up. When we have to use our energy to defend ourselves from abuse, no matter how subtle it may appear, the subsequent drain causes a diminished spontaneity and a lack of feeling valued. Because we don’t feel valued, our developmental stages are impaired and ultimately we do not fully mature.

 

The prophet Elijah seems to believe he is responsible for all of Israel’s repentance in 1 Kings 19. He finds out his thinking is distorted.

Many of us who were raised in homes where this kind of behavior was common and grew up in the delusion that what happened to us was “normal” and appropriate. Our caregivers encouraged us to believe that our problems arose because we didn’t respond appropriately to what happened to us. And many of us arrived in adulthood filled with baffling feelings and with a distorted way of looking at what happened in our family of origin. We got the idea that the way our families behaved toward us was correct and our caregivers were good. This meant by unconscious deduction that since we weren’t happy or comfortable with some things that went on, we were not “good”. Also, we apparently couldn’t please our parents by being what we were naturally. This delusion that the abuse was normal and we were “wrong” locks us into the disease of co-dependence with no way out.

 

Co-dependents are so focused on and affected by someone else’s behavior that we have very little relationship with ourselves. So a co-dependent doesn’t really know his or her true inner self. We have learned to keep it hidden so that our sense of innate personal value, self-esteem and connection to others is distorted. Co-dependents either isolate, or become very focused on and affected by others’ behavior.

 

As co-dependency progresses, relationships both personal and in the workplace become increasingly dysfunctional and we don’t seem to know why. The underlying stress created from a distorted emotional reality has a negative impact on the immune system, resulting in physical illness.

 

Frequently, codependency is also the underlying cause of addictions such as alcoholism, drug dependency, eating disorders, workaholics, compulsive gambling or spending, sex addiction and love addicted relationships. Anger and rage and, passive-aggression, can come from codependency.

 

There are 5 core symptoms of codependency: If you identify with these characteristics-You are not alone!

 

  1. SELF-ESTEEM ISSUES

 

-I tend to “love” people I can pity and rescue

-I tend to criticize and nag.

-I am self-critical.

-I worry about what others think of my close friends and family.

-I receive my value from being needed by others.

-I don’t feel equal to other people. I either feel “better than” or “less than” those I am with.

 

  1. DIFFICULTY SETTING BOUNDARIES

 

-I am unable to set realistic limits for myself.

-I think the embarrassing behavior of someone close to me reflects on me.

-I tend to lose my own identity in intimate relationships.

-I often isolate myself socially and emotionally.

-I am often attracted to people who hurt me.

 

In Matthew 7:6 Jesus told us not to throw our pearls before swine. If people cannot respect our values or us we may need to get some distance from them, bring them to task or invite another to help mediate the disagreement.

 

  1. DISTORTED REALITY

 

-I constantly seek approval from others.

-I avoid conflict and confrontation.

-I am frightened by angry people.

-I go against my values, if they differ from other people.

-I can share intimate information with strangers, yet am unable to tell my partner because I fear rejection.

-I feel guilty if I stand up for myself.

 

  1. INABILITY TO EXPRESS ADULT NEEDS AND WANTS

 

-I set aside my own interests to care for another most of the time.

-I try to solve others’ problems when not asked to do so.

-I depend on others to make me feel happy.

-I have a history of nervous attacks, allergies, rashes, headaches, depression, being frequently tired and non-specific illnesses.

-I create alliances with my children to get them on my side.

-I occasionally indulge in suicidal thoughts.

 

  1. MODERATION ISSUES

 

-I have extreme swings in my thinking, feelings and behavior.

-I often swing from rage to resignation.

-I am hooked on excitement because it gives me a sense of aliveness.

-I am afraid of authority figures.

-I often feel my life is out of balance.

 

If you are tired of being in pain, feel trapped in outmoded, destructive behavior patterns, you can create a new way of living. We know from our experience as counselors that with willingness, education and treatment, breaking free from co-dependency is possible. Call or email us. Talk to a friend. Read Love Is A Choice by Minirth, Meier and Hemfelt or any other of the great books on Codependency. Today, do something, even if it’s small. You do not have to live in this prison.

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