It is believed that 34,000,000 grew up in alcoholic homes. in the United States. Add to that all the other addictions and few of us were reared in homes governed by mental health. I also believe that mental health is ever fluid and not a fixed position for any of us. Other disorders that may have interfered with the mental health of the family are: perfectionism, materialism, overeating, gambling, religious fanatics, sexual disorders, power, codependency, depression, workaholism, etc.
Anyone growing up in these family conditions will have problems with intimacy, boundaries and difficulty expressing feelings. I believe that the focus on helping others must be in dealing with these three areas. Talking about your past does very little to help with today. The first time anyone talks about an incident in the past is the only valuable disclosure. From this disclosure can come the seeds of today’s solutions.
Living in the here-and-now is the only direction for mental and emotional recovery. Realizing what is beautiful about today and how can anyone can help to make life better will guarantee happiness. If we are living in the past we can’t be in the present. The recovery only works if it is focused on the self and not others.
We are probably all codependent at one time or another. It is only harmful when it is the basic pattern of relationship choice. It happens sometimes that another person gets more of our attention than we are giving to ourselves. But the codependent uses concern to gain power over others in the classic position of “top-dog”. Codependency is a pattern of loving someone excessively in order to control the other person.
Healthy relationships have shared power. The main reason for conflict in relationships is power and how it is shared. Shared power in relationships is the only ingredient in relationships that determines how healthy the union is. Unfortunately, when a person decides to give up his/her addiction, if he/she is part of a couple, the other partner will also have to change. Without the addiction to feed the addict’s sense of reality, the recovering person is awakened to the reality of the power balance in the relationship.
The addict is addicted to the idea that he/she is “controlling” the addiction (“I can quit any time I want to.”). The codependent is addicted to the belief that he/she is “controlling” the addict (by telling them when to drink/use–how to drink/use–how much to drink/use, etc.). The reality is that the addiction is in control and is controlling both partners.