Codependency is sometimes called “relationship addiction”. The definition is broad and varied. Actually, the meaning of co-dependency is in much dispute. The term is relatively new. I was surprised to read that the term came from recovering alcoholics, to describe their husband’s and wife’s. The most basic definition is: a relational pattern in which a person attempts to derive a sense of purpose through relationships with others. I have read others say: it’s a pattern of behavior in which you find yourself dependent on approval from someone else for your self-worth and identity. Personally, I feel, if you are in an emotionally destructive or abusive relationship, you have a co-dependent problem. Now, I realize, most people have had a bad relationship or two .… yes that would be me. But, it is not just having one bad relationship, it is an overall issue that prevents you from acting in a healthy way, with others. Many times it is a learned behavior that can be passed down from one generation to another.
Do you think you have a problem? I think it can be tricky to determine. Look at the following list of questions.
Do you have a hard time asking for something you need?
Do you sometimes feel compelled to help someone solve a problem?
Are you afraid of what people may think of you?
Do you lie to protect other people’s feelings?
Do you take care of others before you take care of yourself?
Are your loyal, even when the situation is harmful?
Do you put aside your own interests in order to make someone else happy?
Do you have a hard time receiving compliments?
Do you feel guilty doing something for yourself?
Do you apologize excessively?
Are you afraid of making mistakes?
Do you accept sexual attention, as a substitute for love?
Do you have a hard time believing, the people around, you can do things for themselves?
Do you offer advice and direction, when it’s inappropriate?
Have you ever compromised your values to please someone else?
Are you a victim of abuse?
Have you ever lived with an alcoholic or drug addict?
Are you overly sensitive to criticism?
Do you ever “self-harm” as a way of punishing yourself?
Do you believe a person can change, even though they have proven that they can’t?
Are you often a victim in a relationship?
Do you feel inferior to most people?
Do you manipulate people in order to get what you want?
Do you allow a person to engage in an addiction, even though you know it is harmful or even deadly?
Do you cover up for people’s mistakes?
Do you give to others as a way to deal with emotional pain?
Hmmmm, so you skimmed through the questions and thought (a) awesome … this stuff does not relate to me, or (b) bummer …. this seems to “hit a little close to home”.
The bad news is that codependency does not cure itself. Like many addictions, it is a progressive disorder.
Codependency does not just go away. It is a progressive disorder. The good news is that it is treatable. There are tools to learn how to live in a healthy way.
If you think you have a codependency issue and you want to get help, here are two options:
• Go to a Twelve Step meeting for codependents, such as Codependents Anonymous, called CoDA, or Al-Anon for family members of alcoholics.
• Get counseling. This can come in the form of a treatment center, psychologist, psychiatrist, family therapist or social worker.
I will end with a quote from the CoDA website “No matter how traumatic your past or despairing your present may seem, there is hope for a new day in the program of Co-Dependents Anonymous.” I like that!