We live in a codependent society that refuses to accept what codependency really is. One of the main fights of my life is helping others to see this in themselves and demand better treatment from others in their lives.
I was one of the lucky ones. Having started my addiction recovery journey in Nov. 1976, I discovered Melody Beattie and codependency in 1986. Being an avid reader of all aspects of recovery, I was astonished to discover myself in her pages. Astonished because codependency was being defined as the co-alcoholic. But I was married to a non-drinker and I was the alcoholic. How was this possible?
Moving forward to 2020, the same problem with misidentifying codependency as the “other” addiction still persists. It isn’t the other addiction. It is the main addiction. Why isn’t this recognized by the addiction/mental health community? Could it be because codependency recovery means healing the childhood experience? It is painful and a lot of work but has to be done to get to emotional sobriety. Kathy Berman
I have decided to go all in on trying to help turn the tide on codependency deniers. We are all either a codependent or a narcissist person if we grew up in a troubled family. We had no other choice. It was the only way to stay in that troubled system. This realization took me 23 years to accept so I know that self acceptance can be a slow process.
BUT the recovery is very quick. Once you accept you are a codependent, you begin to look at all your relationships and begin seeking change or leaving the relationship. I believe the two biggest defenders of building your self confidence during this healing to be learning boundaries and detachment. I notice immediately now when I want to “rescue” someone from their own life. I now know that is my trying to not deal with something in my own life or my having allowed myself to be hooked into believing someone else can’t make it without me. I step back and see how I am being hooked. Is it coming from me or from them? So I spend some time reflecting on what it might be that I want to avoid. A great question I sometimes ask is, “Are you asking for help?” 9 times out of 10 the person waiting to be rescued will deny their need. No wonder I used to feel used.
From Anthony DeMello: Rediscovering Life:
“Here’s a secret formula for you. If you were not actively engaged in making yourself miserable, you would be happy. You see, we were born happy. All life is shot through with happiness. There’s pain; of course, but who told you that you can’t be happy without pain? Come and meet a friend of mine who’s dying of cancer. She’s happy in pain.
So, we were born happy. We lost it. We were born with the gift of life. We lost it. We’ve got to rediscover it.
Why did we lose it?
Because society taught us to believe that if we work hard we’ll succeed and then happiness will follow but all that does is make us miserable. How did society do that? By teaching us to be attached to getting this and that. By teaching us to have desires so intense that we would refuse to be happy unless they were fulfilled. The tragedy is that all you need to do is to sit down for two minutes and just watch how untrue that assumption is— that you would be unhappy without A or B or X or Y, or whatever.
Do you know something? You won’t sit. Because if you sit, you might see it. You won’t sit and look at it. I know I wouldn’t. I resisted it for years.”
From Roots of codependency:
“Like many other problems and patterns we work with in the office, codependency has its roots in childhood. Codependents are usually born into unstable homes, where there is emotional manipulation and where love is conditional. That is, if the child does not act exactly as expected, he/she will suffer abandonment and/or abuse.
The child in such a home grows up learning to control and monitor their parents moods and abandon their true identity, their true self, to please the parents. It is a matter of survival – after all, every child needs a caregiver. Thus, they learn to “dance the dance” of the manipulator, transforming their own life into a theater, where they are always doing well, or rather, pretend to be. In short: it is learned in childhood that, to receive affection, it is necessary to be “perfect” in the eyes of the caregiver. Everything revolves around the caregiver, who shapes the child’s taste and personality, at least on a superficial level. The child does all this for a small dose of conditional affection, which the child needs so much of.
This pattern of abdicating oneself to please another person at any cost continues after childhood, and can be seen especially in romantic relationships. After all, what we learn through past experiences becomes our internal rule. It is the kind of love we earn in childhood that we usually look for in the future; not because it’s healthy, but because it’s what we know, it’s what we got used to. Thus, a child who was born and raised in a home with narcissists may find himself entering into relationships with similarly narcissistic people, and refusing relationships and even friendships with healthier people. The comfort of the known, even if bad, may be better (in the short term) than the unknown. Thus, codependents are at risk of leaving an emotionally manipulative partner only to go to another, thus generating a cycle of ups and downs and unhappiness.”