What is Codependency?
According to Melodie Beattie in the book Codependent No More, “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.”
While this term can be applied to other situations, it was first used in 12-Step programs as it was seen to apply to people in enabling relationships with others who were chemically dependent. In such relationships codependents facilitate the alcohol or drug use of another in a way that has negative social and health consequences for both.
The concept of codependency is useful in the therapy and recovery process to identify certain patterns of behavior which may include:
- Changing who you are to please others
- Feeling responsible for meeting other people’s needs at the expense of your own
- Low self-esteem
- Stress-related medical illness
The Way Forward from Codependency
In a humorous vein, someone has said “You know you are co-dependent if, when you die, someone else’s life flashes before your eyes.” There’s a kernel of truth in that statement: Recovery from codependency involves taking an inventory of your life and learning to focus on your own needs. Creating healthy boundaries and investing energy in yourself are first steps in the healing process.
Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA)
I also help people who grew up in homes where there was alcoholism or other dysfunctional behaviors. Sometimes this factor is a set-up for later codependent behaviors.
As the ACOA World Services Organization defines the problem:
We were dependent personalities, terrified of abandonment, willing to do almost anything to hold on to a relationship in order not to be abandoned emotionally. We keep choosing insecure relationships because they matched our childhood relationship with alcoholic or dysfunctional parents.
These symptoms of the family disease of alcoholism or other dysfunction made us ‘co-victims’, those who take on the characteristics of the disease without necessarily ever taking a drink. We learned to keep our feelings down as children and keep them buried as adults. As a result of this conditioning, we often confused love with pity, tending to love those we could rescue.
Even more self-defeating, we became addicted to excitement in all our affairs, preferring constant upset to workable solutions.
It’s a joy to see people reclaim their lives and heal from codependency and ACOA. Through therapy, you can find your way to learn how to set boundaries and stop saying “Yes” when you really mean “No”. I support and encourage participation in various programs such as ACOA and CODA groups which are located in local communities
If you’re ready to take this step of growth for yourself please give me a call at (916) 912-4777 for a free, 15-minute telephone consultation to discover how my services may benefit you. I’d be delighted to hear from you.a