Everyone is codependent sometimes. When we care more about what someone else thinks of us, we lose our connection with self. When we lose that connection with ourselves, we can believe that this is “caring” or “loving” someone. But it really is called dissociation. Dissociation is a learned response to anything we view as trauma. We need to learn what it is and what it feels like in order to stop using it. We learned it as a child as a defense mechanism to not feel unpleasant thoughts. We don’t need it as an adult.
I believe the most bewildering experience I’ve ever had was being emotionally deserted by both my parents from time to time. I grew up in a family with a Daddy’s side and a Mommy’s side. And sometimes they would decide that I needed to be taught a lesson and they joined sides against me. I became a nonentity–someone who wasn’t there. From this I learned dissociation.
We have to learn to reconnect with our feelings. One of the best books to study about these learned patterns of behavior is the Red Book of Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA). You can order it here from the World Service Organization.
When you don’t know you are disconnected from your own feelings, you live in two worlds–the pretend world you create as being real and the real world of denying yor on feelings. What results is terror and panic.
From the ACA Red Book—
“Ending the Internal Conflict
The conflict between the two sides of self is one of strategy and not of intent. Both the adult and the child long for the love and respect necessary to sustain the human spirit but disagree on how to attain their desire; the child by hopefully waiting in isolation and the adult by rushing into frustrated action. In ACA we learn both strategies lead only to despair.
Ending our inner conflict depends on both the adult and the child recognizing the need for unity in recovery. By acknowledging their need for each other, the adult and the child create the sense of wholeness needed to fully respond to the world.
Mutual acceptance allows the child to see that the ability in trust is damaged but not broken and can be restored by gently and slowly emerging from the protective prison of isolation. The adult becomes aware of the spirit of joy that inhabits every child and recognizes the need for openness and spontaneity in feeling completely alive.”