Codependence is NOT a 4 letter word

Hey Ho.

Been doing a lot of soul searching and reading and remembering...and here is my current conclusion:

I think a lot more of us have problems with Codependency than we think.
What is it? It is linked to alcholism, but NOT ALWAYS.

Here are a couple of definitions:

"A codependent person is one who has let another person's behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person's behavior." ~ Melody Beattie

Some professionals have described it thusly: "It is not a disease but a normal reaction to abnormal people."

"Codependents are people whose lives had become unmanageable as a result of living in a committed relationship with someone addicted or mentally/emotionally behaviorally affected."

Wher'ere it comes from,  it matters not if we learned coping mechanisms of trying to please others because of our situations growing up. It may have grown out of real need to care for a sick parent, or maybe there were other darker things... addictions or alcoholism or neglect or abuse or trauma when we were young.

The fact remains that some of us learned that we should DO for others. It was our saving grace. When all else failed...if we could help another all would be well.
At first that kind of behavior makes us feel GOOD.
Like angelic good.
It is even a bit edgy and gives us the feeling inside, like we are superior to those who need us.
Because we have the answers and are in the position to share.
We can HELP you, anyone.
Especially those that we LOVE.
And to be perfectly honest.... that all makes us feel pretty good about ourselves.
I mean, what's not to love about helping others?

But hold on...
From there it is only a short hop, skip and a jump to where we feel the need to connect duty and service with love..and lust. Soon much of our confidence comes from the approval of others.

And if it doesn't come, we feel miffed or rejected or lonely or angry. Or starved of affection.
In fact,  we are easily snared into being roped in by a charmer who wants to be our everything.
And they usually come with much baggage and they ask us to "fix" them, help them, feed them, love them.

And so we do.

But then, when we can't fix them (because they need to fix their own problems)....
and we get frustrated
and they then become the scapegoat for our lives.

Granted, our sin is that we have, in the interim, put OUR lives on hold for them.
(Oh silly Little Mermaid...giving up your fin for a pair of legs to please a man...)

The person that we loved and adored, soon gets sick of our nit picking, nagging and leaves us, (even if we did have reason...) giving us once more this feeling of abandonment that we ran from in the first place into their arms..

And if they DO stay, sometimes you find that they have pulled away some how, emotionally, sexually, or spiritually, in order to find their own space...that we invaded...that they wanted us to claim.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
It's a bizarre dance and vicious cycle.

Are YOU codependent?

Maybe you could ask yourself some of these questions:

Have I given up things that I loved in order to be loved?

Have I bent over backwards and given of myself and done for others what they should be doing for themselves?

Have I neglected my own self sometimes in favor of gaining favor from others?

Have I gone without in order to give to someone what they need?

Have I gotten angry when the person of my devotion didn't take my perfect advice and change?

Society does not help with this phenomenon.
It teaches us to be a "cheerful giver"....to "give till it hurts"...."to turn the other cheek"....to "love others as we would like to be loved."

Well the hell with that plan.

Maybe INSTEAD we should be taught to:
"Put on YOUR oxygen mask first before the childrens' on the plane in order to help them best"
and "what others think of you matters NOT"...
and "love yourself first and always".

People don't care how much we do for them.
They don't like us any better if we are generous or not.
As a matter of fact, some charmers take that virtue of ours and run with it and abuse it and take until there is nothing left.
(That is because they have their own problems of control. Many charmers can be codependents and  control freaks too)

I feel that Codependency has gotten a bad rap.
You aren't an ugly banschee monster.
You aren't a doormat or a control freak.
It comes from a hurt individual with a generous heart and a need to be saved from former traumas.

But I really think it comes down to how we DO raise females in this country, and yes, throughout the world.
If you don't think that's true, find a woman who DOES take care of herself and doesn't barter for affections then society calls her "selfish" and a "bitch", while a man is labeled "confident" and "in control".

We use these reasons to make sense of our life.

Like"
"If only (he/she) were acting better my life would be great."
or
 "If only I wasn't so preyed upon by others then I could find some time for myself"....
or
"If only my house was clean and I didn't have to pick up after everyone" ....
or
"If only my lover would stop playing on the computer and living on SL" .
or
 "If only my boss would appreciate me" 
or 
"If only people could see how wonderful I really am and appreciate me"
or
"If only my wife would stop drinking" (or ...shopping/gambling/drugging/gossiping-fill in the blank as needed)
or insert whatever issue is of utmost importance...

It's really all the same. Yes, we were probably all injured at one point or another, during childhood. Yes, we all have scars. Some are deeper than others. Really, who doesn't?

But here's what's really interesting. You see, sometimes, in a twist of karma and fate, we actually ATTRACT and find people that will attack that same tender scar, the same ouchy achilles heel, stress that same weak link. ON PURPOSE. Albeit, we do it subconsciously.

WHY???
It is because there is an inner need to recreate it and then get it FIXED. But that's not what happens. We just keep reinforcing our weaknesses and building bigger scars.
(The definition of insanity is: "Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."~ Albert Einstein) 
Oh, and go crazy we DO.

As far as "fixing other people" well, forget it. As one book I read said, "You didn't create it. You can't change it. You can't fix it."

Their problems are NOT our problems.

From trying to fix the alcoholic mate or parent... to the hoarder husband... to the lover addicted to sex and conquest on the internet... to the girlfriend who has a crack problem... to the wife with a shopping addiction....to the mother who had a nervous breakdown....to the friend with a penchant for risk taking...
to the grandmother who was bedridden most of her life....to the mother who was absent.....to the father who has a gambling addiction...
and oh so many more possibilities out there that you may have felt responsible for!

Guess what?
These are NOT ours to fix and make better!!
But because WE may have been neglected or put down....WE want to feel needed and the way to be needed is to feel helpful....TO DO for others. To FIX them.
We get easily sucked into their worlds...and then they make us feel responsible for them.

BUT We are NOT responsible for their issues.

We are only responsible for ourselves.

Maybe we don't know how to fix our own lives...
maybe we were told we weren't smart enough, rich enough, pretty enough, or capable enough.
NO MATTER.

That's NOT true. We are all those things.
You ARE capable!

We can start by taking care of our own SELF.
Not reacting.
NOT FIXING their issues.
No longer make excuses for them.
No longer cover for them.
No longer try to make everyone happy.

It only leads to anger, resentment and pain in our OWN heart.
Let GO and let GOD deal with them and their lives.
It's their path.
It's their Karmic Destiny.
They are the ones trying to work out their problems.
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink.

We need to disconnect from everyone's expectations.
We need to disconnect from OUR expectation of THEM.
We are not superior to them.

We have our own junk to deal with.

In the Bible it says, "Do not try to take the splinter out of someone's eye when there is a log in your own."

Good advice.

In the meantime....I'm trying to sweep my own path and find the sun on my horizon.
I hope you can too.

****************************************************************
If you are interested in more of this wonderful way to heal... I HIGHLY recommend the following books:

"Following the Yellow Brick Road: The Adult Child's Personal Journey Through Oz"  by Joy Miller & Marianne Ripper

"Doormats & Control Freaks: How to Recognize, Heal or End Codependent Relationships" by Rebekah Lewis

"Codependence and the Power of Detachment: How to set boundaries and make your life your own" by Karen Casey

"Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself"  by Melody Beattie

3 comments:

Willow said...

Yes! Yes! Yes!
I have been working, sometimes unsuccessfully, on this issue in myself over the past two years or so. I have read about half of Melody Beattie's book and I will definitely check out these others. In my case, my parents are children of alcoholics, neither of whom drink, but have their own issues. My dad was passive aggressive for years and years and my mother is bi-polar/depressive. It's a big Pandora's Box full of issues. I have a big problem with this. Working on it though. Nice to commiserate with someone who knows what it's like. I mean, I am a people pleaser, and I do many things without expectation of anything in return because it makes me happy. But then it carries over into relationships where there is supposed to be give and take and there is no give from the other side; just take, take, take. And then it just becomes something that drains your life energy away. So, working on it! Big Hugs, lady!!!
-Linda Noble

Merlyn Fuller said...

Thanks for writing, and I'm glad you understand as well. I will leave this quote for you...

The definition that some professionals use to describe codependency is this: "It is not a disease, but a normal reaction to abnormal people."

Some people just call it being "a caretaker".

Whatever it is, it shouldn't affect our lives as much as we've let it. Time to circle the wagons. Teach others. Stand up for yourself and stop trying to tilt at so many windmills, I guess :)

Merlyn Fuller said...

Hugs right back at ye Linda! :)