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Good Reading and Workshop about Codependency

Old 04-21-2017, 12:52 PM
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Ann
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Good Reading and Workshop about Codependency

Symptoms of Codependency
By Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT
~ 5 min read

Symptoms of CodependencyCodependency is characterized by a person belonging to a dysfunctional, one-sided relationship where one person relies on the other for meeting nearly all of their emotional and self-esteem needs. It also describes a relationship that enables another person to maintain their irresponsible, addictive, or underachieving behavior.

Do you expend all of your energy in meeting your partner’s needs? Do you feel trapped in your relationship? Are you the one that is constantly making sacrifices in your relationship? Then you may be in a codependent relationship.

The term codependency has been around for decades. Although it originally applied to spouses of alcoholics (first called co-alcoholics), researchers revealed that the characteristics of codependents were much more prevalent in the general population than had previously imagined. In fact, they found that if you were raised in a dysfunctional family or had an ill parent, you could also be codependent.

Researchers also found that codependent symptoms got worse if left untreated. The good news is that they’re reversible.
Symptoms of Codependency

The following is a list of symptoms of codependency and being in a codependent relationship. You don’t need to have them all to qualify as codependent.



Low self-esteem.

Feeling that you’re not good enough or comparing yourself to others are signs of low self-esteem. The tricky thing about self-esteem is that some people think highly of themselves, but it’s only a disguise — they actually feel unlovable or inadequate. Underneath, usually hidden from consciousness, are feelings of shame.Guilt and perfectionism often go along with low self-esteem. If everything is perfect, you don’t feel bad about yourself.



People-pleasing.

It’s fine to want to please someone you care about, but codependents usually don’t think they have a choice. Saying “No” causes them anxiety. Some codependents have a hard time saying “No” to anyone. They go out of their way and sacrifice their own needs to accommodate other people.



Poor boundaries.

Boundaries are sort of an imaginary line between you and others. It divides up what’s yours and somebody else’s, and that applies not only to your body, money, and belongings, but also to your feelings, thoughts and needs. That’s especially where codependents get into trouble. They have blurry or weak boundaries. They feel responsible for other people’s feelings and problems or blame their own on someone else.Some codependents have rigid boundaries. They are closed off and withdrawn, making it hard for other people to get close to them. Sometimes, people flip back and forth between having weak boundaries and having rigid ones.



Reactivity.

A consequence of poor boundaries is that you react to everyone’s thoughts and feelings. If someone says something you disagree with, you either believe it or become defensive. You absorb their words, because there’s no boundary. With a boundary, you’d realize it was just their opinion and not a reflection of you and not feel threatened by disagreements.



Caretaking.

Another effect of poor boundaries is that if someone else has a problem, you want to help them to the point that you give up yourself. It’s natural to feel empathy and sympathy for someone, but codependents start putting other people ahead of themselves. In fact, they need to help and might feel rejected if another person doesn’t want help. Moreover, they keep trying to help and fix the other person, even when that person clearly isn’t taking their advice.



Control.

Control helps codependents feel safe and secure. Everyone needs some control over events in their life. You wouldn’t want to live in constant uncertainty and chaos, but for codependents, control limits their ability to take risks and share their feelings. Sometimes they have an addiction that either helps them loosen up, like alcoholism, or helps them hold their feelings down, like workaholism, so that they don’t feel out of control.Codependents also need to control those close to them, because they need other people to behave in a certain way to feel okay. In fact, people-pleasing and care-taking can be used to control and manipulate people. Alternatively, codependents are bossy and tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. This is a violation of someone else’s boundary.



Dysfunctional communication.

Codependents have trouble when it comes to communicating their thoughts, feelings and needs. Of course, if you don’t know what you think, feel or need, this becomes a problem. Other times, you know, but you won’t own up to your truth. You’re afraid to be truthful, because you don’t want to upset someone else. Instead of saying, “I don’t like that,” you might pretend that it’s okay or tell someone what to do. Communication becomes dishonest and confusing when you try to manipulate the other person out of fear.



Obsessions.

Codependents have a tendency to spend their time thinking about other people or relationships. This is caused by their dependency and anxieties and fears. They can also become obsessed when they think they’ve made or might make a “mistake.”Sometimes you can lapse into fantasy about how you’d like things to be or about someone you love as a way to avoid the pain of the present. This is one way to stay in denial, discussed below, but it keeps you from living your life.



Dependency.

Codependents need other people to like them to feel okay about themselves. They’re afraid of being rejected or abandoned, even if they can function on their own. Others need always to be in a relationship, because they feel depressed or lonely when they’re by themselves for too long. This trait makes it hard for them to end a relationship, even when the relationship is painful or abusive. They end up feeling trapped.



Denial.

One of the problems people face in getting help for codependency is that they’re in denial about it, meaning that they don’t face their problem. Usually they think the problem is someone else or the situation. They either keep complaining or trying to fix the other person, or go from one relationship or job to another and never own up the fact that they have a problem.Codependents also deny their feelings and needs. Often, they don’t know what they’re feeling and are instead focused on what others are feeling. The same thing goes for their needs. They pay attention to other people’s needs and not their own. They might be in denial of their need for space and autonomy. Although some codependents seem needy, others act like they’re self-sufficient when it comes to needing help. They won’t reach out and have trouble receiving. They are in denial of their vulnerability and need for love and intimacy.



Problems with intimacy.

By this I’m not referring to sex, although sexual dysfunction often is a reflection of an intimacy problem. I’m talking about being open and close with someone in an intimate relationship. Because of the shame and weak boundaries, you might fear that you’ll be judged, rejected, or left. On the other hand, you may fear being smothered in a relationship and losing your autonomy. You might deny your need for closeness and feel that your partner wants too much of your time; your partner complains that you’re unavailable, but he or she is denying his or her need for separateness.



Painful emotions.

Codependency creates stress and leads to painful emotions. Shame and low self-esteem create anxiety and fear about being judged, rejected or abandoned; making mistakes; being a failure; feeling trapped by being close or being alone. The other symptoms lead to feelings of anger and resentment, depression, hopelessness, and despair. When the feelings are too much, you can feel numb.

There is help for recovery and change for people who are codependent. The first step is getting guidance and support. These symptoms are deeply ingrained habits and difficult to identify and change on your own. Join a 12-Step program, such as Codependents Anonymous or seek counseling. Work on becoming more assertive and building your self-esteem.


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Conquering Codependency
By Steve Greenman, MA, LPC, NCC
~ 3 min read

I remember the ice hitting the glass.

After working all day and sitting down in the living room, I would hear the noise of the ice from ice maker entering the glass. The hair on the back of my neck stood straight up. My mind raced to what may or may not happen. Would I have to cancel the evening plans? How were the boys? I wonder if anyone noticed we have been missing at meetings? When was the last time my then-wife did not get into an argument, prompting the boys to ask if everything was all right?

I had known for some time that I needed help dealing with my wife’s drinking. I had been trying to control it and always labeled it under the heading “what was best for the kids.” What I was forgetting in all this was the toll the drinking was having on me personally. I was depressed, feeling alone, and just plain tired of it all.

Life changed dramatically when my wife took a second-shift job. Night brought a quietness and peace I had not felt for some time. I had previously tried to control the use of alcohol by screaming, pleading and trying to ignore the triggers. None of it worked. Once my wife went to evening shift, the drinking took place in the early morning hours, when the rest of us were sleeping. I realized the difference was not allowing the drinking to dominate my waking hours. I needed to take this one step further. After many years of threatening, I finally attended an Al-anon meeting.

Powerless against it. Strength, not weakness. Allowing the controlling aspect of alcohol to dissipate was beginning to slowly enter my mind as I listened at my first Al-anon meeting. Powerless? You mean I did not have the duty to control, enable and cover up any more? I did not have to carry the burden of the disease? I could think about myself?

I could begin to see what alcohol was doing to me. I was dealing with the same urges as the drinker, but didn’t have the release of alcohol to numb my pain. I was in many ways the dry drunk in the family. My reaction to the situation was affecting my 8- and 14-year-old sons more than the actual drinking. I thought I was protecting my boys, but actually I was adding fuel to the fire by creating the environment to drink.

Those at the meeting shared their stories of their first time in attendance. They spoke of being scared; of being too good for this silly program; and that they were not the one with the problem. Each person expressed that control was not an option. The act of controlling was destroying more than the drinking. I was not leading a healthy lifestyle. For once it was all right to think about myself and review my own feelings.

In a codependent relationship, feelings are often painful. You may have cut off the following feelings:

Anger. Are you having one crisis after another? Do you feel you’re doing all the work in the relationship? Are you angry you’re covering up for your partner?
Isolation. Do you stay home because you’re not sure whom you can trust? Do you feel you have to hide your feelings because things will never change?
Guilt. Do you feel no matter how hard you try it’s never good enough? Do you think that if you were a better partner things would be better?
Fear. Do you fear confronting your partner because they may abandon you? Do you fear physical or sexual abuse? Do you fear the loss of your home and security?
Embarrassment. Do you avoid bringing people into your home because your partner’s drinking is unpredictable? Do you avoid social gatherings where drinking may occur?
Despair. Do you feel helpless and trapped at times? Do you feel it will never change so why bother to confront? Do you spend most of your energy worrying about his or her drinking?

The more that was shared, the more it felt I was beginning to break up that wall in my heart. It was all right to take care of myself; it was all right to focus on me for a change.

It is natural to want to protect the people you care about. But in a codependent relationship, how do you begin to take care of yourself?

Recognize you have a problem.
Start to focus on your needs.
Begin to educate yourself on codependency.
Start setting limits.
Start trusting and get supports.
Understand recovery and the process for everyone.

I felt a bit lighter when I left the meeting. I had shared my thoughts with others and I was able to speak freely about control. I was beginning to make a crack in the wall. I was actually telling someone else that we had a pink elephant in the room that in itself was a huge step forward. I was beginning to understand to cover up pain and shame in the family dysfunction. I needed to learn to respond to an outer reality instead of my own inner reality.

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Old 04-21-2017, 12:55 PM
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Ann
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The attached link leads to a step study I posted here a few years ago.

I highly recommend reading it and working each step by answering the questions and thinking about your answers.

I use this at least once a year for myself, as my life changes my answers change and it is one of the most useful tools of my recovery.

Give it a read through, you'll be glad you did.

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...ependents.html
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