Codependency is About Not Having a Loving Relationship With Yourself

6186159500_f88692406e_zI generally write about want I most want to learn, so I guess it is time to allow my own codependency to be healed. I am a co-creator with God in my life. He does the healing, but I have to allow it to happen. Actually this time, I am thrilled that I can finally lay down my weapons of self-destruction.

The following excerpts are from the blogs I read.

1.  On My Mind (Christine Stapleton): “Depression, Codependency and My Cape”:

“I am codependent. I do not know where I stop and you begin. Your problems are mine. I will rescue you. I will say “Yes” when I really want to say “No.” I will carry ALL your baggage. I will ping-pong between being a martyr and a field marshall. I will get so caught up in you that I forget about me. I am enmeshed. I have no identity without you and your problems.”

“This is my codependency. It is the fuel for my depression and alcoholism. I believe it will kill me before my depression and/or alcoholism. I resent you for getting yourself into these jams. I resent myself for getting myself worked up about you getting yourself into your jams.”

“If you are an alcoholic, like me, codependency is like a bad, itchy rash on your trigger finger. It gives you a reason to drink for someone, at someone and to someone – even yourself.”

“My codependency is so crippling that I went to treatment for it after my last major depression. It helped and I am better. At least now I recognize when I am in the throes of a codependent crisis – which actually kind of makes it more frustrating because I still don’t know what to do.”

2.  I’m Just F.I.N.E.-Recovery in Al-Anon: “Distorted thinking”:

“I think that co-dependency is something that starts at a very young age.  It probably starts with repression of feelings in which a child has to “walk on egg shells” around a dysfunctional family member.  For me, that was my dad.  My mother covered up and denied there was anything wrong. So there was really not much honesty in feelings or trust within the family.  Everything seemed to be “swept under the rug.”

“Consequently, the stress mounts and the child learns to be anxious.  And along with the stress and anxiety, some unhealthy ways of survival are learned.  One of those ways to survive is to deny one’s own feelings.  So instead of basing self-worth on my own feelings and actions, I began to base my self-worth on the opinions, needs, and moods of the person I wanted to please.  In my case, it was my father.”

3. A Room of Mama’s Own: “What is Codependence?”

“But codependence (or codependency) is harder to define and to recognize. After all, codependents can seem, to themselves and others, like hapless victims, in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or they can be perceived (especially by the codependent) as doing good work rather than harm, because the harm they are doing is largely to themselves. But if addiction is an unhealthy attempt to escape trauma, codependence is an unhealthy attempt at damage control.’

“At its heart, codependence is a distorted way of seeing oneself and one’s relationship to the world, which results in unhealthy (sometimes self-destructive) behaviors in relation to other people. Codependence is viewing the world in a fun house mirror and reacting as if you had a huge head and the people around you had huge asses, or vice versa. Codependents want to put the world right, but can’t because they are reacting to a distortion.”

“Generally, codependent beliefs and responses are the result of growing up in a dysfunctional family where at least one member had a (usually unacknowledged, active and untreated) addiction or mental illness. Neglect, abandonment or verbal, emotional, physical or sexual abuse may have been present as well. This background skews the codependent’s sense of “normal.”

“Codependence can span a wide variety of behaviors: from highly controlling and demanding of others to overly compliant and lacking in assertiveness, from extremely self-reliant to extremely needy, from distrustful and fearful of intimacy to naive and overly trusting, and sometimes a mixture of all of the above. Someone who is codependent may seem like “the nicest, most easygoing person ever” or “the biggest control freak ever.” (Personally, I’m a little bit of both.)”

Codependency Begins From Keeping Emotionally Needy Parent Happy

“Because of the pervasive nature of the problem, our whole culture can be called codependent.  When one looks at the problem from a cultural perspective, it becomes obvious that major institutions in our society support codependent behavior. The social structure we have created may be actually dependent upon this behavior continuing.  Throughout modern history, most societies have been structured so that some groups are ranked above others, such as men over women and management over labor. With one group more powerful and in control of the resources, codependent relationships can be easily created and maintained. If people begin to change their codependent patterns, it will bring changes to the larger social structure.”

Barry and Janae Weinhold

1.  From Narcissism Cured: “Codependency”:

Codependency usually develops from a child growing up feeling they must keep an emotionally needy parent happy. This will lead them to understand moods and emotions as something people need help dealing with and cannot process or regulate on their own. This will make a codependent very emotionally needy making it hard for them to stick to their own goals. A person with codependent tendencies may feel keeping everyone happy and preserving the status quo is more important than standing up for themselves. This may lead them not to get angry until they are ‘pushed too far’ and then they may become manic, reactive or over emotional.

Codependence is about emotional dependence and someone with these tendencies will have a hard time functioning if they are not in a relationship and will often put their need for a relationship with a life partner before their own needs, security and goals.

2.  From Robyn Phoenix: “Confessions of a Love Junkie: Recovering from Love Addiction”:

At the root all of “junkies” is the core belief that “we are not enough.”

It was easy to slip back into these thought patterns because they had been a part of my personal narrative for so long. Thinking, acting, and being healthy was very uncomfortable for someone like me. Once I allowed this negative voice to become my internal dictator, my “love junkie” was awakened.

Where I was misled was through this internal belief that things would be better if I only loved more—and this “love” was demonstrated by giving all of myself, not listening to my personal needs for space or voicing my desires, or speaking my truth in most of my closest and personal relationships, including my marriage.

I felt that if I only loved more, then maybe I would be okay. Then I would feel whole.

“Loving more” really, was my codependency playing out, and it often took the form of:

  • Not being able to say no to people’s requests, or outright demands for my time and energy.
  • Feeling guilty when I asked for things or wanted to make time for myself, out of fear of being seen as “selfish.”
  • Putting up with abusive behavior such as neglect, inconsideration, blaming, and shaming from friends, family, or lovers.
  • Feeling that if I distanced myself from these individuals or created boundaries within my relationships, it meant that I was “abandoning” them. As an individual who has experienced childhood abandonment and neglect, this meant I would be “disloyal” and “undeserving.”

Until I was able to adopt certain practices and healthier boundaries I could not respect myself. When I began building up that self-respect and deconstructing the self-denial I had become clouded in, I could then demonstrate authenticity in all areas of my life.

As I began to understand myself better, and treat myself with compassion and kindness I began to experience self-love rather than conceptualize it mentally.

Real intimacy and connection begins internally. When we seek for our happiness, our acceptance, and contentment from outside ourselves we will never be satisfied. The journey starts with the first step of moving toward ourselves.

I took stock of all the energy I was expending on people around me and realized my intention to love was actually blocked by my ego’s need to seek validation. In the quiet and the stillness I closed my eyes and began on the journey to find the greatest gift of all—myself.

Today I experience self-love as a process that begins with a shift from recognizing when I am heart centered as opposed to being centered in the mind. It is a process where one actualizes acceptance and release from the ego.

When I returned to my spiritual community, it was from a place of great humility and personal grace. I was able to see it with a new pair of glasses. I returned with nothing to prove, only a deep desire to trust in a new way of loving myself and opening up to those capable of returning that love.

Love is not an obsession. Love is not a possession or the pursuit of possessing any one person or people. True love fuels a sense of freedom and joy. It is a process of intimate liberation.

3.  From Can You Love Your Combat Vet Too Much?  by Charlene Rubush via Win Over PTSD:

There’s a joke that goes like this: “If you find yourself close to death and someone else’s life flashes before your eyes, you might be a co-dependent.

This certainly applied to me many years ago, and before I hit my bottom emotionally, physically and spiritually. I’d grown up watching my mother wait on my father hand-and-foot. I thought that was the way life was supposed to be.

So naturally, when I married my combat vet, I followed in my mom’s footsteps. I felt I was “born to serve.” For years and years, I took pride in my ability to “take care of my man.” But slowly and insidiously, that pride turned into exhaustion. As the saying goes, “Pride goeth before a fall.”

I worked, ferried kids back and forth to school, did all the housework, and dealt with constant sleepless nights, due to a drunken husband arriving home in the wee hours. It eventually did me in. Something had to give.

Melody Beattie, author of Codependent No More, is an expert in the study of codependency. While working at a treatment center in Minneapolis, she organized support groups for wives of addicts in the program.

She notes, “I saw people who constantly gave to others but didn’t know how to receive. I saw people give until they were angry, exhausted, and emptied of everything. I saw some give until they gave up.” She also recalls:

“I even saw one woman give and suffer so much that she died of ‘old age’ and natural causes at age 33. She was the mother of five children and the wife of an alcoholic who had been sent to prison for the third time.”

As to me, I finally realized I needed help and started attending Codependents Anonymous meetings, along with AA and Al-Anon meetings. It was quite eye-opening. I realized I’d gone beyond being nice and had turned myself into a martyr and a doormat.

Worst of all, my husband didn’t love me any more for it. If anything, he felt contempt for me. I came to realize we’d been living a sick life and things had to change. Unfortunately, we ended up divorced, but there was some good that came out of my experience. I learned that until I valued and took care of my own needs, I’d have little left to give to others.

Photo credit.

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