“At its heart, Codependency is a set of behaviors developed to manage the anxiety that comes when our primary attachments are formed with people who are inconsistent or unavailable in their response to us. Our anxiety-based responses to life can include over-reactivity, image management, unrealistic beliefs about our limits, and attempts to control the reality of others to the point where we lose our boundaries, self-esteem, and even our own reality. Ultimately, Codependency is a chronic stress disease, which can devastate our immune system and lead to systemic and even life-threatening illness.” Mary Crocker Cook
From Wikipedia: “Attachment measures refer to the various procedures used to assess attachment in children and adults. Researchers have developed various ways of assessing patterns of attachment in children. A variety of methods allow children to be classified into four attachment pattern groups: secure, anxious-ambivalent, anxious-avoidant, and disorganized/disoriented, or assess disorders of attachment.”
In my blog post, “Childhood Trauma is the Wound. Addiction is the Bandage“, I listed the four basic attachment theories that we adopted in our youth–maybe as soon as 18 months. The four attachment styles are: (1)secure–(2)dismissive-avoidant–(3)fearful-avoidant–(4)anxious-preoccupied.
From verywellmind: “The Story of Bowlby, Ainsworth, and Attachment Theory“:
“Research suggests that failure to form secure attachments early in life can have a negative impact on behavior in later childhood and throughout life. Children diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorder (CD), or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) frequently display attachment problems, possibly due to early abuse, neglect, or trauma. Clinicians suggest that children adopted after the age of six months have a higher risk of attachment problems.”
“While attachment styles displayed in adulthood are not necessarily the same as those seen in infancy, research indicates that early attachments can have a serious impact on later relationships. For example, those who are securely attached in childhood tend to have good self-esteem, strong romantic relationships, and the ability to self-disclose to others. As adults, they tend to have healthy, happy, and lasting relationships.”
I took a test last week (May 2018) to measure my attachment pattern. I tested out as secure. Which is as it should be after 42+ years of addiction recovery. But I know until I accepted that my family of origin was my primary addiction in 2009 that my attachment pattern was anxious-preoccupied. My mother was my dominant caregiver. But she was 18 when I was born and married to an alcoholic, my father. The three of us found recovery and each other 30+ years later but I had learned I couldn’t trust my childhood home to have my back. I was on an emotional island.
As I learned about self compassion, I learned to give up my need to be perfect. Self compassion is so much deeper than self esteem. Self esteem comes from experiencing challenge and overcoming it. Self compassion is about learning how to gentle myself. I used to try to figure myself out. Now during times of trouble, I ask “What would make you feel better?”
From “Self-Compassion” in GoodTherapy.org:
“Compassion is the ability to show empathy, love, and concern to people who are in difficulty, and self-compassion is simply the ability to direct these same emotions within, and accept oneself, particularly in the face of failure. Many otherwise compassionate people have a harder time showing compassion for themselves, sometimes out of a fear of engaging in self-indulgence or self-pity, but an inability to accept areas of weakness may lead to difficulty achieving emotional well-being. Studies show that women in the United States typically show less compassion to themselves than men do. This may be partially due to the fact that women are often societally assigned the role of caregiver, with gender norms emphasizing nurturing, self-sacrificing acts.”
“Kristin Neff, a self-compassion researcher and the first to define the term academically, describes self-compassion as having three elements.
- Self-kindness, or refraining from harsh criticism of the self.
- Recognizing one’s own humanity, or the fact that all people are imperfect and all people experience pain.
- Mindfulness, or maintaining a non-biased awareness of experiences, even those that are painful, rather than either ignoring or exaggerating their effect.”
(A brief overview of Adult Attachment Theory and Research by R. Chris Fraley at the University of Illinois.)