It’s a term a lot of people use but I don’t think we are all using it to mean the same thing. It is poorly defined and confusing. If codependency were a medication, we would call it a “dirty medicine,” because it hits so many “receptors.” It is nonspecific.
Who hasn’t ever been shamed by the fear that they are codependent?
You are codependent!
Am I codependent!!!??
The word implies blame. Blame for what? And that is one of the places we walk away without benefit. Was the word useful to any of us in any way?
In general, vaguely, codependence implies awareness and participation with mal-behavior that we are powerless to. Treatment preferably includes a twelve-step program that includes the surrender of what we don’t have power over to our Higher Power. Codependence may incidentally be combined with brain disease and of course that would need medication therapy.
There are however a few things that must be cleared up.
- There is nothing shameful about being married, the child of or of any relation to an addict. That position doesn’t diagnose us with codependency unless that’s what that word is being used to define. You never know.
- There is no shame in wanting to be with people, depend on people, seek people out to problem-solve and get energy from being with people. That position does not diagnose codependency unless that’s what the word is being used to define. You never know.
- There may be a relationship to family of addicts
- There may be a relationship to anger problems
- There may be a relationship to kids of parents who expected perfect kids, spouses of spouses who expect perfect spouses, pet-owners who… (Oh wait. That’s not right.)
BUT, per Dr. Q, if we find ourselves…
- in recurring negativity – perhaps an argument that happens over and over
- with an increasingly limited ability to participate in life
- doing things we wouldn’t normally do/out of character
- tied into someone else’s mal-behavior
- consciously aware of that someone’s mal-behavior
IT’S WORTH THINKING ABOUT IT. We might not be codependent, whatever that means, but we do need help.
Questions: How do you identify this in your life or someone you know? How have you been able to stop being dependent on someone you knew was repeatedly doing mal-behavior? Please tell me your story.
Self-Care Tip #275 – Forget the shame and just get about your work to figure this out.