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Codependency

Thread starter #2
I was abused starting at the age of 4. But, during that time I also endured living in a home with an alcoholic father. My mom and other relatives were also heavy drinkers. I don't know who was or wasn't "alcoholics", not sure that matters. I learned to keep my head down and my mouth shut. My mom had her own struggles so I adapted by taking care of her. I was there when she was upset after issues in the home. I sat with her in the dark while she cried to the radio. My older sibling would lean on me during the bad nights when we weren't sure how all of the screaming and yelling would turn out. I stayed strong for them because I needed to. They needed me to. I loved my family and I was happy to provide what I could. This learned behavior continued throughout my adult life,( Codependency?). As my sibling turned his back on me and choose alcohol over me. When I stood up for myself, for the first and maybe only time, my mom also turned her back on me. I was devastated.
The anxiety I feel based around any "healthy" relationships today is severe. I give and give hoping they will stay. I have lost who I am, I don't know if I ever really knew. I am seeing a lot of similar characteristics in myself and what is written about in the book 'codependent no more'. I have attended Al-Anon meeting in the past and found myself relating to many of the members. Now I am trying to see myself. I am trying to in a way look in a mirror. I believe I am at a place in my healing journey of acceptance. I can see it in the distance.
My therapist once told me that trauma therapy/healing is like walking through a tunnel. At first you can see the entrance and can turn around, but I kept walking. Then it was completely dark. I didn't know how far the exit was but I kept going until I seen a light flicker. Although many times I was pulled and tempted to turn back I kept going. I now see clearly the exit. I see the bright light in front of me. Maybe it isn't about accepting what happened. Maybe its about accepting the person I am today. Good and bad. Maybe saying that my past has shaped me in many ways, that I have positive coping skills and these negatives ones, and that is ok. Maybe I am codependent on my husband and children? And maybe I can learn to accept myself and find my own identity ?
I know this is all over, my mind is still processing and sorting through thoughts from therapy yesterday.
 
#4
Hi @Invisible Fire , I haven't read the book but know the term.
Do you think you are in a codependent relationship with anyone now? It sounds like you aren't? (But idk).

I was in a codependent relationship. We suffocated each other. Shared everything. Did nothing apart. Emotionally manipulated each other. Wouldn't give the other any space at all. Not even to have thoughts. Had to share every thought. All this was done in the guise of love. We were 19, moved in together after 3 months we got together and was in the relationship for 5 years. I can count the nights we spent apart in all that time on one hand. She then ended the relationship. And I crumbled (Lost the plot a bit) but also felt free. And realised I never wanted a relationship like that again. Now, I'm fiercely independent in my relationship (perhaps too much? Idk).
Like you, I fixed things in my family. I didn't see that as codependent , but maybe I need to think about that more. I just saw that as them dependent on me, unbearably so and unfairly so. And that is still how I see it, as they still expect me to solve their problems.

I'm not sure if my account helps at all, but thought I'd share.
 
Thread starter #5
The only question I have: what is negative about codependency in your relationship that is holding you back?
I think I am trying to hard to be sure my children are happy and making the right choices. They are both young adults (over 18). My youngest recently was in a situation that caused her trauma. I felt I was to blame for all of it. I had to "detach" and take care of myself so I could care for her. I also have codependent issues with my husband. probably because of my fear of the past repeating itself. It is causing me to not be able to have a healthy relationship that we both could benefit from.

I'm not sure if my account helps at all, but thought I'd share.
Yes, thank you for sharing. It is good to hear that because you had a codependent relationship doesn't mean that all relationships have to be that way. And once you experienced that you learned and did not repeat your mistake. What you described I would consider codependent. For, me I am learning that excessive worrying and trying to help my family and not letting the go to grow is part of it for me. I have a lot of anxiety around normal things but it is hard to separate from being triggered.
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
#6
It sounds to me if you are having some familial challenging times but I do not think or at least it does not strike me as co-dependency. Also having co-dependency in marriage has its ebbs and flows and most of the time in a healthy relationship, it is the path for growth. There is no perfect marriage so when two adults enmesh, hopefully they recognize and balance it out rather than jump to opposite of detachment...that kind of huge swing is not easily manageable for most.

most couples when in romantic, let us say vacation, they fall into that crazy love phase where they become one and it can be a great way to re-charge a relationship but of course that has its limitations in real life every day in and out...and losing identity on the end of spectrum.

As for your child, to me, and this could be just my view, you sound more like a concerned mother...a co-dependency mother who is aware of it and using that as a weapon is very dangerous and you are not particularly seeming that...you seem to have a lot of guilt though about what happened to your child and maybe even blaming yourself internally ...all can relate to past traumas...but do you feel you are withdrawing love from your child, you are holding them back from growing up, jealous that they are not like you or even maybe has something you wish you did? if you answer all these questions no...you are not in codependency relationship with your child.

I am sorry you are experiencing these setbacks and I admire your exploration of what it may be...
 
#7
For, me I am learning that excessive worrying and trying to help my family and not letting the go to grow is part of it for me. I have a lot of anxiety around normal things but it is hard to separate from being triggered
I can understand that.
I don't have children, so for me that sense of helping/fixing family is about my siblings and parents and neices/nephews. It took until last year (in my 40's) and a ton load of years, guilt, worry, anxiety etc etc etc to realise: I'm not responsible for the problems they create. It's been freeing to know that. I'll help where I can, but the drama, the dysfunctional emotional blackmail: nope.

What you say about your children: you sound like a parent who wants the best - so not codependent but a functioning, caring, supportive parent .
 
Thread starter #8
you seem to have a lot of guilt though about what happened to your child and maybe even blaming yourself internally ...all can relate to past traumas.
this is probably very true. I thought I had done everything to keep my kids safe. I made sure they weren't abused and then at the age of 18 someone hurts her. I feel/felt I should have done something different something better. I should have said something, seen something. Which is where the idea of detachment is calming to me. Not detach from her or withdraw love or time with her. But, to set that blame down where it belongs with the young man who did this. To stop trying to find where I messed up. And to start caring for myself. To be present and help her I had to stop making myself sick. My answers to your questions were no. Thank you for your insight
 
#9
I am curious if anyone else is familiar with this term and or has read the book?
Super familiar with the term, but whilst I’m aware the book is pretty much the bible for codependency (and is on the required reading list for communication majors as well as certain psych degrees), I’ve never read it.

I used to drive a clinical social worker friend of mine craaaaaazy with the quote

“Some people call it codependence... We call it teamwork.” :smug:

She’d reach out and thump me on the head, or bang her own head on the table :banghead:, and in some sort of frustrated tone shout “INTERDEPENDENCE! That’s interdependence! Inter.De.Pen.Dence. INTERDEPENDENCE!!!”

Hehehe. It. Was. Awesome. :sneaky:

In all seriousness... she was absolutely correct.

Codependence is -in a nutshell- taking on (or giving away) the responsibility for other people’s (or our own) emotions, thoughts, and actions. Found in nearly every abusive relationship ever; as the abused partner/kids try and “keep the abuser happy”, & blame themselves when they’re not happy, & blame themselves for the abusers actions when unhappy... and ditto, place all their happiness, self control, etc. in the hands of another person. It’s not yooooour fault you lost your temper, it’s theirs, for doing XYZ. If they hadn’t done XYZ? You wouldn’t have gotten mad.

Interdependence accepts INFLUENCE, without responsibility. It’s no one else’s job to make me happy, and no one else’s fault if I get mad. Even if I’m mad at their actions, IE it “is” their fault I’m mad... the responsibility for my emotions rests on me. <<< Abusers often twist this into a codependent clusterf*ck, refusing to accept that their mood & actions affect others, and further demanding that others act/feel the way the abuser wants them to. :wtf: Thats not interdependence. That’s being a self important & dismissive asshole. >>> Interdependence is probably best characterized by the healthy bonds one finds in good marriages, great friendships, & healthy parent/child relationships. The emotional ties between the people we love the most, WITHOUT the loss of self.

Independence can also exist in healthy relationships with the people we love the most, although in those relationships there’s usually a mix of times when a person is independent & interdependent. A great example is growing up. A child (ideally) is first dependent, then interdependent with increasing amounts of independence, until they are wholly independent from their parents OR interdependent with them (found most often in collectivist cultures). Another great example is going to work. Independent at work, for the most part, and interdependent at home. That’s not a license to do whatever the f*ck you want at work (affairs, job offers/resignations, etc.) because you still owe the connection to your spouse... but how interdependent couples handle that varies by relationship. It’s largely accepted, for example, that one will need to talk to the missus/mister before accepting a new position that will affect home-life. IE where the independent & interdependent parts of their lives cross. Just a work decision, is made on one’s own; a work decision that accepts the family, is brought home to be discussed.

To use another work example

Codependence = Slavery or Imprisonment
Interdependence = Teamwork
Independence = Solo operator
 
#10
@Friday
Take abuse away, and most relationships are not so cut and dry...it is more mature to allow flexibility in relating... Of course without getting lost in semantics.
A very human codependency that is positive is an infant and mother.... Mother must deeply enmesh with the child to fell what he is may want.. Most healthy adult relationship have similar phases that are not about abuse.
Let us not exaggerate.
 
#11
Let us not exaggerate.
I have no idea what you mean.

Mother must deeply enmesh with the child to fell what he is may want..
I couldn’t more strongly disagree.

Does enmeshment with parent/baby happen? Nearly always. I have never yet met a parent who was not -at some point- screaming and crying and completely unable to care for themselves, much less their screaming and crying infant. Few parents go to the extreme of total loss of control / total enmeshment (Like throwing their baby at a wall, having as little control over their actions as the infant); but a great many set the baby down to hurl furniture/clothing/food/their own selves at the wall/floor; or set the baby down and collapse into a puddle of inconsolable tears & wailing, or just hold their child and scream and scream and scream until their voice runs out. There’s still some sense of self, even if say 90% is indistinguishable from the screaming, crying, flailing infant.

But that’s NOT how one wants to primarily be with their infant, nor does it in anyway predict a higher level of care than the exact same parent who retains their sense of self; rather it predicts a much lower level of care... and if it persists? Is usually a sign of a parent being dangerously unwell (postnatal depression, or postnatal psychosis), rather than a momentary loss driven most commonly by exhaustion... not love, connection, empathy, and awareness.

It seems like you’ve confused codependent & enmeshment; with interdependence/empathy, & bonding/attachment?

Because that’s rather like saying a child needs to be abused, when you mean disciplined or punished. Both equal an unhappy child, but abuse is wrong, full stop. Discipline & punishment are not. And are also not the same thing. Punishment is a form of discipline. And, yep, it can progress onto abuse levels. But it doesn’t have to, and usually isnt. The same way that being affected by other people, doesn’t mean that you lose your sense of self. Being influenced by others doesn’t mean that you’re codependent. It can. But it doesn’t have to, and usually isn’t.

***

A person doesn’t have to be codependent to be considerate, kind, empathetic, aware, affected by, sympathetic, stressed out, irritated, disappointed in, saddened by, angry with/for another person. Those -and others- are all things that exist in both interdependent & independent relationships. There’s a huge amount of overlap. It’s a spectrum, not a black & white leap from the extreme of codependence to the other extreme of totally disconnected.
 
#12
I'm codependent, although less now. I bend over backwards to help people, and usually pick up a following of people who are needy or want something I have. Allowing them to walk all over me is codependent, setting boundaries is healthy, but after a lot of boundary setting they usually find someone else. As far as my son goes, when I had my breakdown, he suffered a lot of trauma from my suicide attempts. I took responsibility for that, but I have to watch myself when it comes to "helping" him. I tend to want to help him out of situations, but I try to teach him how to help himself. He is a kind, compassionate person. I have to do a lot of self-searching before I become someone's friend, since I haven't really had a friend in my life who didn't want a codependent friend. I wonder how to stop wanting to be friends with these people? I guess I will read the book.
 
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