Well, here you find yourself needing to learn something more about codependency. I think it was so important to discuss this topic primarily because most have really no idea what the syndrome is.
It definitely is the co-addict, the person involved with an addict. It is also seen in people who are not directly involved with addiction. In fact, if you really pay close attention to the lyrics of most of the love songs out there, they are primarily codependent songs....I Can't Live Without You....If You Leave Me, Take Me with You ...just a couple of them.
I speak of codependency because I am a recovering codependent.
It is a problem that starts in childhood and moves unfalteringly into adulthood. It is also seen as in the Heart Math language as overcaring. Succinctly, it means I can't be okay with myself unless you are okay. It means my actions are not truly representational of my authentic true self because what you do, think, and act impacts me too much. It means I am not able to really take good care of myself because I am too involved in taking care that you are alright. My most favorite phrase was...."What's the matter"! Now when I say that it really sounds ridiculous. Have you been there?
It is exhausting, causes depression and anxiety and robs one of true happiness. You really are not able to self actualize and live life fully and completely. This is one area of help that is well worth it. It takes working in therapy and out of therapy to free yourself from this behavior. I've included some very important information on codependency which will help. The more it is understood the closer you can get to getting better.
From Codependence: Healing the Human Condition
by Charles L. Whitfiield, M.D.
Codependence is a disease of lost selfhood. It can mimic, be associated with, aggravate and even lead to many of the physical, mental, emotional or spiritual conditions that befall us in daily life.
We become co-dependent when we turn our responsibility for our life and happiness over to our ego (our false self) and to other people.
When we focus so much outside ourselves, we lose touch with what is inside of us: our beliefs, thoughts, feelings, decisions, choices, experiences, an even indicators of our physical functioning, such as heart rate and respiratory rate. These and more are part of an exquisite feedback system that we call our inner life. Our inner life us a major part of our consciousness And our consciousness is who we are: our True Self.
Codependence is the most common of all addictions: the addiction to looking elsewhere. We believe that something outside of ourselves — that is, outside of our True Self — can give us happiness and fulfillment. The "elsewhere" may be people, places, things, behaviors or experiences. Whatever it is, we may neglect our own selves for it.
Self-neglect alone is no fun, so we must get a payoff of some sort from focusing outward. The payoff is usually a reduction in painful feelings or temporary increase in joyful feelings. But this feeling or mood alteration is predicated principally upon something or someone else, and not on our own authentic wants and needs.
The remedy sounds simple: We need a healthy balance of awareness of our inner life and our outer life. But such a healthy balance does not come automatically, especially in a world where nearly everyone is acting co-dependently most of the time.
In fact, we learn to be co-dependent form others around us. It is in this sense not only an addiction but a contagious or acquired illness.
Codependence is not only the most common addiction, it is the base out of
which all our other addictions and compulsions emerge. Underneath nearly every
addiction and compulsion lies codependence. And what runs them is twofold:
a sense of shame that the innate and healthy drive of our True Self to realize
and express itself. The addiction, compulsion or disorder becomes
the erroneous notion that something outside ourself can make us happy and fulfilled.
Codependence is also a mode of surviving what may feel like an overwhelming situation — trying to grow up in an unsafe and mistreating family and environment. Finally, Codependence is not who we really are, it is not our permanent identity. It is only an interim label, a temporary identification, a term that we can use to help us describe the truth of what really happened, what we really experienced and what we may still be experiencing.
Codependence may be present in any one of or a combination of the following:
- persistent stress-related or functional illness or complaints
- stress-related illness that is unresponsive or only partially responsive to conventional therapy
- relapse of addictions or compulsions
- most medical or psychological conditions and many problems in living, including difficulties in relationships with self, others, and our Higher Power. While it is not the only causal factor for each of these categories or conditions, it can be helpful therapeutically to view Codependence as a major underlying condition and dynamic in them.
We develop Codependence unconsciously and involuntarily. In its primary form, it begins with mistreatment or abuse to a vulnerable and innocent child by its environment, especially its family of origin, and later by its culture or society. In contrast to addictions, Codependence does not appear to have a genetic transmission. Rather, it appears to come about by the following process, which I call wounding.
The Process of Wounding
- Wounded themselves, the child's parents feel inadequate, bad and unfulfilled.
- They project those charged feelings onto others, especially onto their spouse and their vulnerable children. They may also project grandiosity. They look outside themselves to feel whole.
- In a need to stabilize the parent and to survive, the child denies that the parents are inadequate and bad, and internalize (takes in, introjects, accepts) the parents' projected inadequacy and badness, plus a common fantasy: "If I'm really good and perfect, they will love me, and they won't reject or abandon me." The child idealizes the parents.
- Because of the above, the child's vulnerable True Self (lost heart of the self, libidinal ego) is wounded so often that to protect its True Self, it defensively submerges ("splits off") itself deep within the unconscious part of its psyche. The child goes into hiding,
- The child takes in whatever else it is told — both verbally and nonverbally — about others and stores it in its unconscious (mostly) and its conscious mind (sometimes and to some degree).
- What it takes in are messages from major relationships. The mental representations of these relationships are called "objects" by the object relations theorists. These representations are laden with feelings and tend to occur in "part-objects" (such as parent, bad parent, aggressive child, shy child, and so on).
- The more self-destructive messages are deposited more often in the false self ( which has also been called internal saboteur, anti-libidinal ego, negative ego, or the internalized or introjected, rejecting, or otherwise mistreating parent.
- A tension builds: The True Self strives to come alive and to evolve. At the same time, the negative ego (the most destructive aspects of the false self) attacks the True Self, thus forcing it to stay submerged, keeping self-esteem low. The Child's grieving of its losses and traumas is not supported. The resulting "psychopathology" or "lesion" has been called a schizoid compromise, multiplicity of repressed egos, and a splitting off of the true self. The outcome can be a developmental delay, arrest, or failure.
- Some results include chronic emptiness, sadness and confusion, and often periodic explosions of self-destructive and other-destructive behavior — both impulsive and compulsive — that allows release of tension and a glimpse of the True Self.
- The consequence of the continued emptiness or repeated
destructive behavior keep the True Self stifled or submerged. The person
maintains a low self-esteem and remains unhappy, yet wishes and seeks fulfillment.
Compulsions and addictions ("repetitive compulsions") can provide
only temporary release, can lead to more suffering and ultimately block fulfillment
The result of the above described wounding process is Codependence in its primary form. It is also called the adult child syndrome or condition.
- Recovery and growth involves discovering and gently unearthing the True Self (Child Within) so that it can exist and express itself in a healthy way, day to day. It also means restructuring the ego to become a more flexible assistant (positive ego) to the True Self. Some other results are aliveness, creativity and growth.
- Such self discovery and recovery is most effectively accomplished gradually and in the presence of safe , compassionate, skilled and supportive people.
Some Characteristics of Codependence
*My good feelings about who I am stem from being liked by you and receiving approval from you.
*Your struggles affect my serenity, I focus my mental attention on solving your problems and relieving your pain.
*I focus my mental attention on pleasing you, protecting you or manipulating you to "do it my way".
*I bolster my self-esteem by solving your problems and relieving your pain.
*I put aside my own hobbies and interests, I spend my time sharing your interests and hobbies.
*Because I feel you are a reflection of me, my desires dictate your clothing and personal appearance.
*My desires dictate your behavior.
*I am not aware of how I feel. I am aware of how you feel.
*I am not aware of what I want. i ask you what you want.
*If I am not aware of something, I assume (I don't ask or verify it in some other way).
*The dreams I have for my future are linked to you.
*In our relationship I use giving as a way of feeling safe.
*As I involve myself with you, my social circle diminishes.
*To connect with you, I put my values aside.
*I value your opinion and way of doing things more than my own.
*The quality of my life depends on the quality of yours.
Personality Components and Roles, Traits and Disorders
- Rescuers and fixers try to rescue, fix or help others while neglecting themselves. They lose their identity in others. Helping professionals often manifest Codependence in this way. As is true of most of these guises, they usually learned it as a survival technique growing up in their dysfunctional family of origin.
- People Pleasers have unhealthy boundaries and limits. They would rather acquiesce and comply with others than express their own healthy wants and needs. They have a hard time saying no to others. Part of their recovery includes learning to say no. People pleasing is a subtle form of manipulation and control.
- Overachievers feel empty from the loss of their True Self, and try to fill the emptiness with achievements. But, because the emptiness was not due to lack of achievement, it tends not to be relieved for very long with each achievement. The child who takes the role of family hero is at especially high risk for this manifestation.
- Inadequate Ones or Failures feel as empty as their seeming opposite,
the over achievers. Failures have low self-esteem and a recurring feeling
of shame. They feel imperfect, incomplete, inadequate, not good enough, bad,
rotten, and flawed at their core. A feeling of inadequacy actually underlies
and runs the overachiever's drive to overachieve. It also underlies and is
a major dynamic in nearly all the other manifestations and consequences of
In recovery, co-dependents discover that this sense of shame was only a protective covering like the layers of an onion, that covered and blocked their True Self from fully knowing and expressing itself. Nearly all the shame they felt was projected onto them by others, It does not belong to them. Cognitively and experientially discovering this fact and integrating it into their life is a major part of the recovery process.
- Perfectionists are driven by fear of failure and the need to avoid being wrong or making any mistakes. They can drive themselves and those around them nearly crazy in the attempt. There can be a fine line between the healthy wanting to do one's best and learning from mistakes, and the unhealthy preoccupation with perfection to one's own detriment.
- Victims can present as the 'sick one' with chronic illness, or as the 'bad
one,' the delinquent or scapegoat who is always getting into trouble. The
victim admits and expresses self-pity —
no one 'understands' them. They often whine while telling their story of woe.
Although they may toy with getting help, they rarely commit or follow through.
They admittedly run from taking responsibility for self-improvement. They often
lure rescuers, fixers, and helping professionals to try to help them, so they
can shame or otherwise punish them for not really helping. Victims often eventually
tell would-be helpers, "You've just made me worse."
Victims live mostly in the past, reciting an endless string of "If only's." Victims admit that they are losers, and ask others to feel sorry for them. Until they begin to take responsibility for being victims, their prognosis with any therapeutic assistance is poor at worst and guarded at best. Even so, they tend to be one step ahead of the martyr.
- Martyrs are more difficult to assist in recovery than victims because they
deny most of what the victim admits, such as their self-pity and feeling
misunderstood, unappreciated, burdened and hopeless. Nonetheless they may
manifest these feelings by their actions and their treatment of others — their
behavior speaks louder than words. They often sigh refusing all suggestions
or help, and say they already know all of these, have tried them and they
The martyr's victimhood is more difficult to recognize because they can look good on the surface. Yet they won't take responsibility for their lives. Martyrs often suggest that they have "too much" responsibility and may disguise themselves as rescuers or fixers. Both martyrs and victims want someone else to take responsibility for them and want to see the other struggle and suffer.
Martyrs live mostly in the future, pretending to be done with the past. They may also be overly religious. While victims admit they are losers ,martyrs won't — and don't even know. Both martyrs and victims refuse to face and feel their pain. Martyrs are among the most difficult to help of all the people that helping professionals see.
- Addicted ones are those dealing with addictions in all forms.