Codepedency - how do you feel about this concept?

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#1

I have to say I struggle with and don’t really like this word or concept. How do you all think and feel about it?

I tend to take things on board if I can find a way to make them useful to me. Anything useful about it?


#3

I have an automatic reaction of fear and disgust to this word! But I think it can be helpful for me to separate myself when I take on other people’s emotions and battles. Detachment with love can be healthy.

I want to save the world and I put on my superhero cape, but it gets exhausting and overwhelming. Saving the world may be another way of saying I want to control and change outcomes that are not acceptable to me. So what’s wrong with that? Anyone looked at the shape the world is in?

Perhaps some of our true heroes were codependents - Mother Teresa and I’m sure others - I don’t think we would want them to be different. This term is not cut and dry.


#4

Interesting question, @Jane - I’ve never really considered if I have a particular reaction to this word!

I think it can be a helpful way of explaining the experience of becoming “addicted to the addict.” What I mean is becoming so consumed or obsessed with helping that we sacrifice or expense our own health & well-being. That seems like codependence to me - our loved one is dependent on a substance and we are dependent on our loved one’s dependence - (woah, dependence inception!) - to feel helpful or needed.

Any thoughts on that? Super open to hearing other’s opinions and insights here!


#5

My take on this word is that in can be a way to put us (the family and friends) into a box. This box can be charged with stigma as well. It’s word that has been used for a long time to address US, and I think we’re may more than what the word is. It implies that supporting our loved ones means there may be something wrong with us. Certainly something that deserves further healthy discussion about!


#6

There has to be a word to a “virtue” if you like? that is taken to extremes, probably at the sake of our mental or physical wellbeing. What is it? Lack of self-love or self-worth, forgetting our own needs, trying to control the outcome of things so we can finally relax and be happy, instead of accepting what is?

“Codependency” is just a term to a concept. More important than the word we use is why do we behave like that and, more importantly, where does it come from?

Interesting to know that the term was first coined to describe “us”, loved ones of addicts, but is now being used more widely.

How is it not possible I suppose to not want to “help” a loved one in great need?

BUT, and this also relates to the idea of “connection”. Sure, we all need connection to thrive. But how can we have healthy ones if we are not healthy ourselves? And how on earth can an addict possibly “connect” to us or to anyone else for that matter if he cannot even connect to his own feelings and demons, masking it in his/her addictions?

Same for “helping”. Only we —each one of us— can HELP ourselves, by CONNECTING to ourselves first.

Only we (each one of us, as humans) have to get to the point where there it is no longer sustainable to hide from our truths. Is that true recovery?

I know it is true for me. If we are honest with ourselves, have we not always had that tendency to “over-compensate” if you will, and found ourselves in unhealthy relationships or connections, when all we want is to love and be loved and be happy?

It can’t be just fate, I’m sorry. Whilst I did experience addiction in my very closest family member when I was young, I have not always had a chain of addicts in my life, but my romantic relationships have all been unhealthy in the past in some way or another, looking honestly back. So who is the common denominator here? And why did we choose these situations to begin with? We can’t say—at least I can’t—that we chose them without knowing deep down, without seeing the red flags, despite trying to brush it away. We can’t say we didn’t know better.

And why do other people just seem to be able to move on since the beginning and not look back, in pursuit of their dreams?

Whether we want to call it “blue” or codependency I don’t mind. I don’t mind the word, I am just happy to be able to name something inside of me that has caused me great harm throughout my life. For once the light and my focus is put on myself and on my healing.

PS.: I have never been to Al-Anon nor am I going to any meetings, therapists or else. I have never really spoken about this to anyone before. I have come to these conclusions in reflection and in the depths of my pain and by reading other people’s experiences and ideas from professionals. Just saying that this only comes from what I feel and have experienced.

For instance, during my recent breakup with my fiance who I loved and still do to bits, I was so out of control, not knowing where he was, who he was with, not having him in bed next to me, knowing it was the end this time, for days… After insomnia, being physically sick, crying… I read something about meditation online and tried it to calm me down. It wasn’t perhaps that first time that it happened, but shortly afterwards while trying to focus on my breathing, I saw myself as a little girl in the classroom bursting into tears and crying quite frankly a river for the whole hour of that class. The teacher stopped, all my other classmates looked at me too. I bent over and buried my face in my arms on my desk and continued crying. The teacher then continued his teaching and left me to it, I was so relieved. There was something that needed to come out in such a dramatic way that all who were present, classmates, friends and teacher, understood and respected. I didn’t speak about this afterwards, and no one came to ask me why I had cried. For that I was also relieved.

I had never thought back until then to that day or to the feelings I had as a child and as a teenager. Sure, I knew I had a difficult past, but I considered myself so strong and as never really, deeply wanting or needing to dwell into that.

During my meditation I realized those wounds needing healing first. I need to take care, love and cherish that child I was before I can’t even fathom loving my fiance or anyone else for that matter in a romantic, committed relationship. I am in my very late thirties and something has to change, And it is me.

Sorry if I was long.


#8

@Biancachops I read this all through and I just wanted to say what you wrote was so beautiful. I can’t imagine going through a breakup with your fiance. But it seems like you’ve really found your inner grit and are powering through. I think one of the most important things I’ve realized this year is that I truly owe it to myself to make sure I am taking care of the little things that matter to me first before doing anything else. It’s made me a more productive, mindful person… and has made me feel much more positive energy on a daily basis.


#11

WOW - thank you so much for sharing this @Biancachops. It must’ve felt profound and uncomfortable to make this observation of yourself.

I’m curious, what are you doing now to heal? How are you caring, loving, and cherishing your inner child?

I’m sure there’s something you’ve learned or are considering that could be helpful to others who are unlearning codependency (or whatever you want to call it :wink:).


#14

@Biancachops This was such a beautiful share. Thank you - very vulnerable. I hope you are feeling some healing taking place in your life, even with the difficult situation we are facing right now with the pandemic.


#7

I hate that I am codependent, the word makes me uncomfortable but also becuase I know I am. I’ve forever tried to help, heal, protect those I love. It makes me ill with feelings of anxiety and hopelessness. The need to control -to know what is happening and what will happen. I have done so much in the past to control my husband, I never realised until recently. It has caused so much resentment in our relationship because we have both lost and sacrificed so much because of it. It’s hard to know how we will overcome the hurt weve caused each other. On deep reflection I’ve recognized this way of being for me started as a child, my earliest memories is of unhappy events, traumatic ones involving people I love and relied on…alcohol has always been a theme in all these situations / events where there was no control, nothing I could do. Then I went on to be with someone who I thought needed me, to be “saved”. Similarly to @Biancachops I thought I was strong and was able to hold it together and protect everyone. Now I do the same in my relationship with my husband. Its painful but knowing that I am codependent helps. It gives me a term to recognise my behaviour, my part in all of this. It allows me to not victimize myself all the time, wondering why he does this to me when all I do is love him and try to help him…when i should be taking responsibility for my actions, reactions and take care of me first. Reading the above and reflecting on myself at the moment makes me realise how far I still have to go and how much I still sacrifice of my own needs to keep everyone happy. Its a little overwhelming but I needed this. @Jane great topic to discuss/think about. Thank you


#10

Thank you so much for sharing @Vetti! Such beautiful honesty. :two_hearts:


#9

It seems like for a lot of people, the existence of the term “codependency” can be regarded in a favorable way, as it provides a term to label their behavior. This makes sense, as we can only facilitate behavior change once we recognize the behavior we are experiencing.

Personally, I’ve never been super fond of the term, as it brings about this sort of feeling of shame in the individual. It’s also incredibly hard to delineate the line between helping and helping too much, as it can really depend on the specifics of the situation.

Clinicians in general do not utilize the term, as the DSM-5 does not use it. I try to remain consistent with this notion, but recognize that it’s sort of up to the person using the word. For some people it helps, while for others, it doesn’t!


#12

I didn’t think codependency was a bad thing (as women we are raised to be giving caretakers right?) & i didn’t understand how it was possible to love someone “too much”. But after doing some reading in codependency materials i can now see what it looks like to go “overboard”…or as stated by someone else - become addicted to the addict. I don’t really like the term “dependency” in any form - as it sounds unhealthy, like you are not able to exist without a parasitic host. I don’t want that. Not anymore. Had to step out of the flames to see the fire burning all around me.


#13

It’s all there. The light, the love. t’s just our mind and coping mechanisms from childhood that keeps us blocked. i’m sure it’s tough but worth it. :clap:


#15

@Jane:
To update my answer, I still do not like the word codependent. I read Melanie Beatty’s “Codependent No More” a few years back because my 12-step sponsor wanted me to (like an Al-Anon program), but I did not like it. However, I think it has helped other people and I don’t want to diminish that.

For me, “codependent” seems to confuse helping and enabling; and love vs. control. Or rather, to say that any help is really no different than enabling when it’s in the context of addiction, and any “loving” action is really an attempt to control. That any relationship with an addict is by definition “codependent” and there cannot be genuine love and goodwill (because how could it possibly be mutual). That’s what I see when I really dig into this term, but I know from reading other people’s responses that they have found value in learning more about codependence as an unhealthy type of attachment.

Rather than saying what I’m against, let me explain what I believe. I know wholeheartedly that I can maintain a loving connection with my son, no matter what stage of addiction or recovery he is in. He’s still there somewhere, and there are times I can reach him. The addiction cannot destroy our love for one another.

I’m not sure there is such a thing as “enabling” if our intentions are truly from a place of love and not an effort to control. It’s possible to be naïve and make mistakes, sure. It’s great to join a community to get much-needed support, and get educated about the latest evidence-based information on addiction. I spent a few years intensively going on my own recovery journey and reading books about addiction.

My intentions for my son are to express compassion, and to offer help and hold a vision of how his life could be better; to keep that hope alive that he, too, can find lasting recovery.

Then again, the Serenity Prayer has never set well with me either! I’m all about changing the things I cannot accept!