I have worked with people who have never tasted a drop of alcohol and have some of the most co-dependent relationships you could imagine.
Codependency may feel like an addiction, but it is a compulsion. A coming together of people with malaptive needs that need meeting.
You Could Be In A Co-dependent Relationship and Not Even Know it.
You or your partner may be hooked on any number of things:
• One partner is a workaholic and the other one always feels ignored
• One is a drama queen (or king) and the other is always on edge
• One partner is a control freak, and the other partner can never make decisions
• One is irresponsible and the other is always cleaning up the mess
• One partner shuts down in conversation and the other one feels abandoned
• One has angry outbursts and the other tries to smooth things over
• One partner is domineering and the other doesn’t speak up
Do you notice a pattern? In a co-dependent relationship, one person’s feelings and needs are repeatedly dismissed or minimised. This is in marked contrast to a healthy, interdependent relationship where neither partner would allow such behaviour to continue.
In essence, co-dependents are unhealthily attached to each other. If one person stops the destructive behaviour, co-dependency – and the relationship as it is – cannot continue.
Like alcoholism and drug addiction, co-dependency will suck the life out of you unless you do something about it. In fact, your health and happiness depend on you ending co-dependency.
If you are the “enabler” in a co-dependent relationship, your feelings and needs will perpetually be on the back burner, before a cascade of destruction: you fill with resentment, you don’t take care of yourself, then your health suffers, then you don’t even have the resources to care for your partner, and then you become bitter and depressed because of the dark hole you are in as you watch your life slipping away.
The Co-dependent Knight in Shining Armour.
A misconception is that co-dependency is a “female thing.” This idea sprung from the addiction model of co-dependency, where the man was usually the addict, and the woman took the role of the enabler.
However, co-dependency is not related to gender and co-dependents are just as common in both sexes. I will give you a very personal example.
It often shows up as a tendency to be a rescuer, namely of a “damsel in distress.” While on the surface it may seem like a heroic move for a man to help a woman in need, a pattern of such rescuing is a sign of co-dependency.
And on the other foot – the man may have the issues and the woman may believe she is going to save him and enters the co-dependent cycle.
“When I was a child, I saw that by making my mum feel better was the only time I ever got positive feedback from her, and as I grew up I was drawn to women who needed ‘rescuing’ for one reason or another.
Beneath my co-dependency was a need for control. I felt that if my mother could struggle with her life at any moment, attention would be withdrawn and my whole world was in disarray emotionally. In order to cope, I tried to control the relationships I had, by rescuing people from their difficult lives. I also got used to the pattern of this and realised that I could survive this pain, whereas I didn’t know or even consider if I could survive doing it differently?
And I was very good at it, so I thought.
Realistically you have no control over anyone but yourself and the moment you rely on trying to control someone else in order to be happy, you set yourself on a path of disappointment and misery. Possibly you will also create an addiction to cope.
The Co-dependent’s Cascade of Addiction
As mentioned, the classic enabler allows his or her partner’s addiction to continue by lying or covering up for them (say if they are late to work because they have been drinking all morning), or they make excuses (like justifying behaviour to the children). Yet the enabler often becomes the addict.
I worked with a man who had a compulsion for affairs, leading to his wife over-eating in an attempt to deal with this. As the wife put on more weight, he had even more excuses to continue his extramarital activities, leading to the wife blaming her weight on her dysfunctional relationship.
After he worked on his issues that led to the affairs and became more open and loving towards his wife she was able to let go of her dependency, lost weight and the couple now enjoy a relationship better than either of them ever imagined.
Can You Break A Co-dependency Pattern On Your Own?
Waiting for the other person to change is a major symptom of co-dependency. The more you rely on outside circumstances to change before you can be happy, the more you keep handing power away. The only person you have any control over is yourself, and trying to get someone else to be who you want or do what you want, you are engaged in a fruitless and self-annihilating task.
By trying to rescue someone, you are disempowering their ability to self-transform, and you are denying your issue too, so it will never improve. You are telling yourself, “I am denying the only real power I have, which is to affect change in my own life.” That’s why you will always fail when you try to rescue someone from their unhappiness, and have you noticed that nobody has succeeded in rescuing you from yours either.
Here’s the good news: while you have been stuck in co-dependent relationships for years and even decades, it only takes ONE moment to break the pattern.
Often, one person does “wake up”, by reading a book, going to a seminar, or seeing something on television, and of course, reading something like this!
This can then lead the partner to start demanding change from others, but change always has to start with you first.
Fundamentally, co-dependency is about not taking responsibility for yourself. When you take responsibility, you reclaim your own personal power and begin creating your own life, and allowing people to take responsibility for theirs.
This is how you avoid either becoming a rescuer, a martyr, or a victim that needs rescuing.
And the quickest, most powerful way to start taking responsibility, right now, is to start working on accepting and loving yourself. When you ignore your own needs, when you dismiss your own feelings, and when you deny your own personal power, you are not accepting yourself.
When you fixate on someone else’s needs and are ignoring your own, you are abandoning yourself. You wouldn’t dream of treating someone you love this way, yet in a co-dependent relationship, you are repeatedly demonstrating lack of self-acceptance and care. You put yourself down the list, and the needs of others always seem more important than yours.
When you have a situation where one person has a moment of accepting and loving themselves on their own, you never know where it’s going to go. I’ve seen so many examples of this and also experienced it myself.
And now am very happy to offer you this experience of change through my relationship coaching.
This is a culmination of the 15+ years I have spent working with people on how to find the kind of self-acceptance and self-love that puts an end to dysfunctional relationships. The programmes are very personal to me, because they contain the same powerful experiential processes I use to cultivate this within me.
I know you want quick relief from relationship problems and my coaching programme cuts to the chase from the first meetings. You will be led through the process and you will feel a shift within you, which will then manifest as transformation outside of you, within your relationships, and your overall sense of happiness and fulfilment.
As you move into being happy individually, you will have the best relationships you can have.
Contact me for more information and to book your complimentary ‘Relationship Breakthrough Session’ where we can discuss how coaching will work for you.
Be good to yourself