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Can we talk about co-dependency?

Old 01-23-2011, 02:06 PM
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Can we talk about co-dependency?

Im not sure I am really understanding this term?

I know what it is, Im just not sure if I am a 'codie'? How do you know that it applied to you?

Sometimes I do things that make me think I am seriously 'codie' and other times not at all.

How do you define it?

Thanks!

(I am new to this and to seeking help, always thought he was the one with the problem so why did i need help? But now I know!)
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Old 01-23-2011, 02:32 PM
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I'm not that fond of the term "co-dependent" mainly because it gets tossed around pretty freely. Maybe that's me being snobbish, I dunno. People don't seem to use it in a consistent way, and as far as I know it isn't an actual diagnosis.

I think anyone who cares deeply about an alcoholic or addict behaves in unhealthy ways, at least until they learn better. Rules for relationships that make sense when you are dealing with a non-addict can be positively harmful when applied to a relationship with an addict. Plus, addicts are very adept liars and manipulators. Not because they are evil (necessarily), but because that's how they have to behave for the disease to continue. So we wind up feeling like idiots and victims a whole lot--not healthy for us.

Rather than attempt to diagnose yourself as "codie" or "not-codie", it might be more helpful to simply examine the ways in which your thinking and your self-esteem have been affected by living with the alcoholic. Most of us learn to cope in ways that become habitual and carry over even when the addict/alcoholic is clean and sober, or when we have left the relationship. To the extent you can see those things and straighten out your own thinking, you will have a happier future to look forward to.
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Old 01-23-2011, 02:47 PM
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My advice, if you really want to know, would be to get yourself a copy of "Codependent No More." It is full of examples of harmful behavior that fall under the umbrella of codependence. If you are like most people, you will find that some apply to you, and some don't.

I don't think the label is all that important. I know many people bristle at the idea that they might be codependent. For me, it was a relief. Finally, there was something I could do about my situation. For two decades (longer if you count childhood), I was a "victim" of the alcoholic. There was nothing I could do about it. When I discovered codependence, it was like being handed the key to my own prison cell. Now there was someone I could change. Me. It was very liberating.

L
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Old 01-23-2011, 02:52 PM
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Thanks, LTD, for another perspective.

I think it really IS different for people who grow up in alcoholic households. When you are a child and grow up with the craziness, it probably imprints on your psyche a whole lot more than it does on an adult who encounters addiction for the first time in a partner or a child.

I don't know, as I grew up in the proverbial "Leave it to Beaver" household. So maybe I don't relate as well to the experiences of people who grew up as children having to live with addiction.

That's what's great about these boards--no matter what you are dealing with, there is someone else who's been there.
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Old 01-23-2011, 04:44 PM
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I have to agree with LexieCat. Codependency is a slippery slope word that gets used and miss used by all sorts of people. I'm certain I exhibit behaviors that could be labeled co-dependent. But I really don't worry about whether or not I'm a "codie." I'm working on making my life better. I'd like to get more of what I want out of living instead of having to adapt so much of how I spend my time to AH's drinking schedule. In short, I'm trying to become more powerful. I'll measure that by how I feel from day to day.

Here's an article I read recently and saved. I think this is an interesting perspective. It does really confirm my notion that there's no firm definition of codependency. LexieCat is correct that there is no criteria for diagnosing codependency.

How the Co-dependency Movement Is Ruining Marriages

Last edited by Verbena; 01-23-2011 at 04:45 PM. Reason: correct spelling
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Old 01-23-2011, 05:59 PM
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Wow Verbena, love the article! Thanks - I needed to read this today.

I have often felt, after reading 'co-dependent no more' years ago - that we are all a little bit co-dependent and that's normal, we are pack animals after all.

This article really points out that the rules completely change when a relationship/marriage is chemically fueled (insert your chemical here).

And after spending all day beating myself up over my stupidity in getting involved with an alcoholic, I have come to realize that shoot - I was ignorant, not necessarily co-dependent! I just didn't know what I was dealing with. And I truly, genuinely love the guy.

Research co-dependency; take what works for you and leave the rest. And welcome; I am new as well and finding myself again - this forum really helps!
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Old 01-23-2011, 06:10 PM
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Cool article, Verbena. I've always been skeptical of self-help books in general, but last time I was married (lol), I had several of Harley's books, and they struck a chord in me. My alcoholic husband wasn't in a position to work on our relationship, but the books made a lot of sense to me.
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Old 01-23-2011, 07:39 PM
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Wow - good opinions on this ...

I think "Codependency No More" allowed me to examine my behavior and work on eliminiating the actions and emotions that were to hurtful to me.

The idea that most profoundly changed my life:
* I can't change people's behavior or opinions

The idea that I could control my AH and control what others thought of us/him = insanity. But I tried to "manage" everything and hide our secret. What a waste of energy that was and what a RELIEF to not stress on it anymore.

The epitome of throwing good energy into a bad idea.

I don't like labels either but I did gain some insight into how I could find some happiness.
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Old 01-23-2011, 07:56 PM
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The idea that I could control my AH and control what others thought of us/him = insanity. But I tried to "manage" everything and hide our secret. What a waste of energy that was and what a RELIEF to not stress on it anymore.
i used to believe this with every fiber of my being.
i think i used to get migraines trying to use my mind to control other people.
what can i say, what can i do, to distract, avoid, evade, destroy evidence.
and this was after I got sober.
good googly moogly,
i was craaaaaaazzzzzyy!
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Old 01-23-2011, 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by ToBeSerene View Post
I think "Codependency No More" allowed me to examine my behavior and work on eliminiating the actions and emotions that were to hurtful to me.

The idea that most profoundly changed my life:
* I can't change people's behavior or opinions

I don't like labels either but I did gain some insight into how I could find some happiness.
That's great! Anything that helps us gain insight to getting some joy and fulfillment in this life is worth the time we spend with it. You just never know when you'll find something important that speaks directly to your heart.
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Old 01-23-2011, 08:19 PM
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When I first read about co-dependency I felt relief. It was so good to be understood...actually helped me understand myself.

I struggle a little now because I identify myself, my good traits and things I'm good at, as some things that fall on the co-dependent scale. If those things are not working, not good for me, then what is good about me? I"m sure there is something but I spent 40 years with a certain picture in my head about who I was and what I valued. I understand that there are 'levels' of a behavior and that article was good to read. Just what I needed this week! There is a lot to read on that site. He also states he will not work on a marriage with active addiction in the mix. What to do with an alcoholic spouse
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Old 01-23-2011, 08:29 PM
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There are a lot of things I've come to believe over the last 5 or so years.

1) Codependency is not a disease. It's a set of dysfunctional behaviors or habits that can be changed if one is willing to put in the effort.

2) We all have certain traits that make up our personalities. Traits are neither good nor bad, they just are. How our traits manifest in our behavior is what makes them productive or destructive.

3) Codependency does not equal stupidity. This is where a lot of people get stuck. Making poor choices in life/relationships/behavior is not a reflection of intelligence or lack of.

4) The label you put on it does not matter. What matters is shifting your thinking from the idea that your happiness or satisfaction in life depends on other people/situations/things to the knowledge that you control your own destiny.

Someone above mentioned becoming more powerful. That's the essence of it. I spent most of my life giving power over my well-being to someone else. Learning about codependency gave me a new perspective. It gave me the ability to reclaim my power. There's been no stopping me ever since.

L
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