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Is Codependency Real?

Old 04-23-2009, 09:02 PM
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Is Codependency Real?

I decided to post this thread here instead of in the codependency forums because I'd like to hear from people who aren't 12 steppers, although if you are in AA or Al anon and would like to share, by all means do!

To me, people who are affected by another's drinking or using are not necessarily in need of recovery, because there's nothing pathological about their thought processes. I mean, they're an unfortunate victim of circumstance; it doesn't mean they contracted a codepedent disease that they share with the user. A lot of times, they do what any caring person would do, which in today's lingo would be considered "enabling".

Theres nothing pathological about helping a user avoid the consequences of his actions by funding his habit, keeping him from going to jail, etc. Says who???? In some cases, a person who doesn't have a caretaker would surely die. IMO, telling them that they're diseased because they're a caretaker is reckless. And remember, its always their choice to help.

Do you agree or not? What are your thoughts on codependency and enabling?
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Old 04-23-2009, 09:27 PM
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I think my definition of codependency is totally shaped by the codie thread, and the readings from The Language Of Letting Go by Melody Beattie. I had never given the term much thought before I came here to SR, but shortly after quitting I saw a therapist twice, and she said "You have more codependency traits than alcoholic traits, something else to look into". I thought she was a nut burger from the jump, but when I read that thread it rocked my world. Both of my parents were hard core drinkers, as is the man I married.Everyone in my fam is either an addict or recovering. I still don't know how much I buy in to labels and generalizations, but doing the work from that book is really helping me on my sober path.
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Old 04-23-2009, 09:51 PM
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My father was a raging alcoholic, and my mom didn't drink at all. They were both insane. I always thought mom had a "martyr complex," but she fits with what I've read on the codie thread---loss of identity, enabling, resentments, huge drama. It was difficult to be around them, and of course they tried to suck me in as well. I was not very compliant about it. That's when I discovered drinking on my own away from them and was off to the races. So another one was spawned.

I think it doesn't have much to do with being a caretaker in the literal sense, but the dysfunction of two devouring people with different dynamics creating living hell for each other.

Yuck.

The kicker to all this is now my mom has departed the earth, and my father is old and frail. He's no longer an alcoholic, but he lives with me and I am now his literal caretaker. He had gotten out of line in the beginning, but I stopped that kind of crap right away. Now peace reigns. It is what it is.

It's a good topic, Eroica. Thanks.

Last edited by desertdonna; 04-23-2009 at 10:11 PM. Reason: added thought
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Old 04-24-2009, 03:10 AM
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You bet it's real.

Just as everyone who drinks and has a bad experience is not necessarily an alcoholic, not everyone enduring a crisis with someone they love's substance abuse is not necessarily codependent. That doesn't mean there is no such thing as an alcoholic nor a codependent, it just means that not everyone is.

If drinking or drug use affects you profoundly to the point that your life is completely dysfunctional and filled with chaos, sadness, depression or pain, then odds are good that you are one of the above.

My name is Ann and I most certainly am a codependent.

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Old 04-24-2009, 06:00 AM
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Hello, Eroica.


I live with my parents. I moved home two years ago because my drinking was out of control. I thought that if I moved home I’d be more accountable for my actions. I believed I would quit.

It didn’t work out that way. I still drank a lot. My mom knew about it and sometimes got on my case. Of course I didn’t want to hear it. I hid in my room and pulled out my hidden bottle and kept drinking.

After a little more than half a year of that, I made several first attempts to quit.

Fast forward to today. I have one month sober after a nearly three week relapse. I’m in therapy now and am on meds for depression/anxiety that I had before the drinking started.

If my family had refused to put up with my bullsh*t, if they had not been patient with me, if they had kicked me out with no place to go, I would have committed suicide. There is no doubt in my mind about that. I am so grateful for the support and grateful that I’m still here.
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Old 04-24-2009, 06:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Eroica View Post
I decided to post this thread here instead of in the codependency forums because I'd like to hear from people who aren't 12 steppers, although if you are in AA or Al anon and would like to share, by all means do!

To me, people who are affected by another's drinking or using are not necessarily in need of recovery, because there's nothing pathological about their thought processes. I mean, they're an unfortunate victim of circumstance; it doesn't mean they contracted a codepedent disease that they share with the user. A lot of times, they do what any caring person would do, which in today's lingo would be considered "enabling".

Theres nothing pathological about helping a user avoid the consequences of his actions by funding his habit, keeping him from going to jail, etc. Says who???? In some cases, a person who doesn't have a caretaker would surely die. IMO, telling them that they're diseased because they're a caretaker is reckless. And remember, its always their choice to help.

Do you agree or not? What are your thoughts on codependency and enabling?
Hi, I agree with everything you say, except what I bolded. Funding someone's habit isn't a good idea, IMHO. But we as a society, based on the 12 steps, have somehow made everything into pathology. What you describe above is actually normal and healthy (except for funding). It IS ok for people to still care about others.
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Old 04-24-2009, 07:19 AM
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Hi .... Yeah my name kinda says it... IMO I think being a CoDie is when one gives to the point it hurts the one giving. I would often do WHATEVER it takes to make my partner happy even when I KNOW it would hurt me...
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Old 04-24-2009, 08:16 AM
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Codependency

Yes .........it is too real
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Old 04-24-2009, 08:18 AM
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Psycho-social issue, yes. Disease, no.
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Old 04-24-2009, 08:44 AM
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people who are affected by another's drinking or using are not necessarily in need of recovery
This quote implies that there are those who ARE in need of recovery does it not? If so, you have answered your own question - its real. Not everyone becomes codependent, but yes, its real.
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Old 04-24-2009, 09:55 AM
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I think co-dependancy is what we all are...dependent on each other...wether we choose to admit it or not. I don't grow my own food....i buy it from the store...and i do other peoples paperwork in my job so they can focus on somethng else they do well...

I think that what i see as a problem...is when someone's life is centered around trying to control another person...and that often happens in relationships with alchoholics where the drinking is having a negative impact on the people around the alchoholic, and therefore those friends and family CAN become completely focused on how to make that person not drink and get into recovery...or how to keep them from loosing a job or whatever, because of course they don't want to see a person they love hurting.

Its about trying to control things that you can't control.

as far as enabling? Well...i realize it isn't my job to save others from the concequences of their actions, but it also is not my job to make the concequences harder...the concequences will come wether i practice "tough love' or not.

And I beieve my first priority is to help others to stay alive long enough to be able to find recovery...cause basicly...dead people do not recover.
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Old 04-24-2009, 10:18 AM
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I think that if you put the prototypical codependent at the end of one scale and then the anti-codie at another it is certainly true that a large number of people end up very close to the prototype. Giving a name to my issues has certainly helped me so if it helps others why not? Do I agree with it's existence? Sure. But I do have a certain problem and I mean no offense here, in fact this might be more about me, because in a way, while I have some codie qualities I am sort of the anti-codependent, fiercely independent. So here is my story:

I went to a 12-step/buddhism talk the other night and at one point the speaker went around the room and asked some people to call out what their addictions were. One lady called out, "My name is ______, and I'm CoDa" or something along those lines. Instantly, I noticed this anger rushing through me. I was pissed that being "addicted to love" was being lumped into being addicted to alcohol, drugs, and the like. I felt that I had worked hard as hell to beat this animal and I was like, really? I wish I was addicted to love, give me a break. Where does it end? What else can I be addicted to and create a whole cult around? In a way it was like let's create a whole little drama around this.

So two things. One, maybe this is a reflection on me. I also went to an Al-Anon meeting once and had a similar annoyed feeling towards the energy there, like get over it people, come on. So I just am unable to as of yet empathize. Hopefully, one day I will get there. Two, I do not think that codependency is an addiction and should be treated in the same way as alcoholism or substance abuse. I suppose if twelve step helps for it, ok, do your thing, but are there dangers to treating everything as an addiction?
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Old 04-26-2009, 08:25 AM
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Just got around to reading this thread... see what happens when I get into a funk? I ignore the world.

I never really knew what people meant by being codependent. In terms of my own recovery I am winging it, no books (Big or otherwise), no counselors. Just a few dedicated friends who have either been through it or are going through it now... that includes people on SR and "real life" people. So a lot of the terminology escapes me.

That said I think I have a sense of what codependency is now. That's how it started with my ex. At first I noticed he was chronically short on cash (back before I did drugs... had I known then what I know now I would have seen it in neon flashing lights, but I was clueless and he was hiding it from me). So I would get him things like soap, paper towels, etc. Soon he was asking me for odd random things, like "Hey, my friend's car got towed. Can you loan him some money to get it out and he can pay you back in the morning?" I was pretty naive about it so I lent him the money; looking back I know he was using it to buy meth. Eventually I figured it out but I kept letting him use my money for it (he had this way of asking... damn him. He always knew how to get me to hand over my cash even when I didn't want to). I think that is codependency. I felt like I needed him in my life, wanted so desperately to maintain our relationship that I lost who I was and what was important to me. Since quitting meth I have basically decided if I ever start feeling that way about another bf, I'm running the other way and fast. No offense guys, but men are a dime a dozen and none of them are worth getting into that sort of situation. Prior to this I was pretty fiercely independent, and I am slowly getting that back. I still can't figure out for my life why this bf had that affect on me and previous bfs did not. This is the only one I have ever had trouble walking away from.

And the crappy thing was that through my codependency I eventually got talked into doing drugs. I watched my bf, who had just been released from prison when we met, go from being determined to stay out of trouble and be a good person to being a meth addict who would lie, cheat, and steal if he needed to get his fix. The saddest part of the whole thing was watching him go down that slippery slope and being addicted to drugs myself I was powerless to stop it. Maybe if I'd been clean I could not have stopped it anyway, but when I wanted to go buy drugs I couldn't tell him no and it did not do him any favors.

And all this started when we were friends, before we ever started dating, and began drinking together. At first it was once in a while, then progressed until we drank every night. Perhaps we were both codies there? I don't know. I don't think I was a hapless victim of circumstance though. I knew I was making bad choices and I made them anyway.
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Old 04-26-2009, 09:06 AM
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Wow great answers. You know, when I was reading the responses I got a sense that some people care so bad and they don't want to lose the person they love so much that they make stupid choices. But since its
*termed* as something-codependency, deemed wrong in some way to feel that way. No doubt negative consequences come out of it, but I would see the oppositte as the disease-just not giving a crap at all. I don't think think there's anything wrong with that caring feeling no matter how intense it is.. the worst consequences happen because its taken advantage of by the other party. And once you realized you're deceived and taken advantage of, you'll most likely stop the behavior at some point. If you can't stop then it might have to do with your own issues of depression or self esteem. But everyone wants to "control" the people they love, not literally controlling them but wanting to see them turn out a certain way... and because they love them they're prepared to make choices that they know are bad.

That said, yes, I understand that for some peple who's lives have become so unmanageable because of "being there" for people that its impossible for them to function, they need help.
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Old 04-26-2009, 09:22 AM
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Old 04-26-2009, 09:42 AM
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Often we associate codependency with caretaking. benevolence, genorosity.
I associate it with control.
I have behaved absolutely insanely trying to control an exabf.
I caretook my disabled husband into inappropriate control.
And there is someone who is trying to control me.
I believe in healthy interdependence.
That is a whole different ball of wax than the codependent characteristics.
By the way, I hate the label too....but if the shoe fits!
And I have met some people who have so little sense of self that they ARE totally "addicted" and NEED others. Not in the usual sense but in a very unhealthy dependent crippling way.
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Old 04-26-2009, 10:23 AM
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I think ex had me wrapped around his finger and he knew it. He took advantage of that situation. I knew the downside of his personality, but so often I could see the good side and tried to ignore the rest. I wanted to believe in him so badly that I let myself make those choices. Don't ask about the logic disconnect there, I can't explain it. "Yes, he's a good person. Yes he makes bad choices. And certainly by funding his bad choices he will stop and become the good person I know is still in there somewhere." Riiiiiight. Like I said, I can't explain it, other than I try to let myself off the hook a little bit because I was a raging alkie and drug user at the time myself. That's not escaping the consequences of my choices-- trust me, my credit card company sends me a letter every month to remind me I'm still responsible for them-- but I think it qualifies as an explanation rather than an excuse.

I could see I was being used but I wanted him to be the person I know he can be-- the person he was when I met him. It's weird because I always felt like he had control of the situation because if I stopped paying he could leave, but if I'd had an ounce of sense I would have realized I could have had the upper hand: I had the money, and he was using me. Which means he needed me more than I needed him. I just lacked the ability to realize that was the truth. Eventually I got tired of being used though, saw it was never going to get better and I started standing up for myself.

And the weird thing? He has a lot of truly wonderful qualities but among them is his ability to make me see that I am worthwhile as person. He did that before we started doing drugs or drinking, then some other stuff happened that caused the drinking and drugs to get out of hand and become a problem. In building me up he ensured eventually I would no longer need him or his b.s.-- I care about him and probably always will but I won't subject myself to that situation anymore.

[/codependency]
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