Codependency/PTSD/relationships is my new research study. Although I thought I have been applying what I have learned about codependency, imagine my surprise and pain when my active drinking alcoholic husband left me in 2009 and I had to admit that I had recreated my childhood home. And I was the good, perfect wife. Right!!
So I took a another 5th step and freed myself of the bondage of guilt and shame finally (after 32+ years of sobriety). Never too late to have a happy childhood.
I am listing some of the codependency links I’ve found. I like to include a sample from the links I share so that the reader can get a feel for the material.
allaboutcouseling.com has a great section about codependency and answers the following questions:
- What is codependency? What’s the definition?
- How do I know if I’m codependent?
- Isn’t everyone codependent?
- Why do we become codependent? What causes it?
- Melody Beattie writes that codependency is unique in that recovery can be fun and liberating. What does she mean?
- How can counseling help?
“Just as there is a series of chemical reactions taking place in the brain of an alcoholic or abusive drinker, so too is there a compulsive-like process occurring in the codependent’s brain. Instead of that process involving dopamine and the pleasure/reward communications networks (as in the alcoholic’s brain’s Limbic System), the codependent’s brain taps into adrenaline (among other hormones and neurotransmitters) and the fight-or-flight communications networks (which also originate in the brain’s Limbic System).”
“The Codependent language is one with which many of you are already familiar. While there are numerous variations and dialects, the lyrical nuances of Codependent itself are preferred by many in the Codependent tribe. Derived from the ancient Passive-Aggressive, it contains elements of Veiled Criticism, Judgmental Subtext, Implied Requests and Ritualistic Inducement of Guilt, and is spoken by millions of Codies every day.”
“Understand signs of codependency. There are many signs and most of them are related to boundaries. Like boundaries with personal “physical” space (ie. standing too close to someone in an elevator) people in codependent relationships interfere with others by invading emotional space. When you realize you feel uncomfortable when asked for help, a person close to you is always needing help and you are the main provider for comfort or any other support, or feeling pulled in many directions by the people closest to you.”
Because I believe that codependency is the breeding ground for addiction, I would like for everyone interested in helping addicts to be aware of the characteristics of children growing up in families with addiction. I also believe that that applies to most of us. Understanding that addiction can be about money, power (which is what codependency is about), religion, sex, etc. as well as substance abuse (food, legal drugs, illegal drugs, alcohol, etc.) shows how wide-spread addiction is..
Anyone who has worked in a workplace with a “good daddy/mommy” or a “bad daddy/mommy” knows this experience also. I have trouble with rage addicts because I grew up with a father addicted to rage–he was a rageaholic. So I have to keep a close check on my codependency around them as I have a basic desire to kick them in the behind–in a ladylike way, of course. But judgment hurts me as well as the other so I try to remember to pray for tolerance when in the company of someone who wants to control me with his/her anger.
The following sites have good references to the ACOA characteristics. Don’t be surprised if you identify with a few of them.
(1) Codependents Anonymous is the coda site. This site includes a great list of characteristics centering around denial (“perceive myself as being completely unselfish and dedicated to the well being of others”), low self esteem pattern (“I do not ask others to meet my needs or desires”), compliance (“I am extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long) and control (“I have to be “needed” in order to have a relationship with others.
(2) Mental Health Issues includes this:” There are identifiable core issues that ACOA’s experience. Control is one such issue. The fear of loss of control is a dominant theme in their lives. Control dominates the interactions of an ACOA with themselves as well as the people in their lives. Fear of loss of control, whether it be over one’s emotions, thoughts, feelings, will, actions, or relationships is pervasive. ACOA’s rely upon defenses mechanisms such as denial, suppression in order to control their internal world of thoughts and feelings as well as the outward manifestation of those thoughts, feelings, and behaviors”.
A current blog post about why some ACOA’s thrive in the addiction and the characteristics they learned from being in the addiction. Great article and I recognized why creativity has been my salvation.
In taking another 5th step, I realized that I had recreated the home of my childhood. I had the good mommy role and my husband was the bad daddy. As I stated there, he acted out his misery by having an affair and leaving me.
This experience has led me on the path of healing my childhood wounds. I was the oldest child–or rather, I was the youngest parent in that home. I took my duties so seriously that I taught myself to deny pleasure. In return, the power connected to this role of being the boss was my first addiction. One that I am only now giving up.
I believe those of us growing up in violent homes suffer from PTSD. I was particularly drawn to the definition of PTSD. Wikipedia defines it as “Posttraumatic stress disorder (commonly referred to by its acronym, PTSD) is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event which results in psychological trauma. This event may involve the threat of death to oneself or to someone else, or to one’s own or someone else’s physical, sexual, or psychological integrity, overwhelming the individual’s psychological defenses.”
In reading about Iraq veterans and PTSD, I identified immediately with the social isolation. I have done this all my life. Although I am a loner and am suspicious of anyone not content being alone, isolation leads me to paranoia and discontent. I am learning a balance finally because I am now free to talk about all my feelings.
I have also identified the brain chemistry associated with my codependency. So I have begun learning how to reparent myself.
So, you can imagine my delight to read this post: What causes addiction? by Jann Gumbiner. Over my 33 years in addiction recovery, I have read many articles and books about the origins of addiction. I was thrilled to find in this article a mention of Dennis Thombs’s book, Introduction to Addictive Behaviors. What I identified with was his belief that we used our addictions to combat feelings of anxiety (fear) that we never learned to process.
My comment to this post:
“After 33 years of recovery from alcoholism, I am so grateful for your mention of Dennis Thombs’s Introduction to Addictive Behaviors”. It so resonates with my experience. My reaction the first time I drank was akin to finding the Holy Grail. I only ever had the same experience when I had been in labor for 33 hours with a double footling breech delivery. I remember gulping down the pain killer that they could only give me as she was through the birth canal.”
I will continue researching PTSD, codependency and addiction as I know that my addiction began when as a child, I didn’t l know how to deal with anxiety and fear. Instead I used these feelings of power over people to feel better myself.