Codependent,… Or Something?!

Inquisition condemned (Francisco de Goya).

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Codependent.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

However,

  1. There may be a relationship to family of addicts
  2. There may be a relationship to anger problems
  3. 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…

  1. in recurring negativity – perhaps an argument that happens over and over
  2. with an increasingly limited ability to participate in life
  3. powerless
  4. doing things we wouldn’t normally do/out of character
  5. tied into someone else’s mal-behavior
  6. 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.

Who Cares What Your Diagnosis Is?

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Self-Care Tip #115 – If it’s not serving you well, don’t waste your time on it.  Be a friend to yourself.

Trixie Hidalgo, advocate to end violence in America, tells me that many of the people engaging in gang crimes tell her that they are put in their life positions (poor, stereotyped, impoverished) by the people who have the power, to keep those people in power and to keep them down.  They have some credible arguments we’ve shared before in history relating to oppression such as race, color, gender, money, or status.  Are these people victims?  Sure, why not.  But is that the point here?

The victims reminded me of a clinic I was in the other day.  I was working with Marcus and his father.  The father was torn about where to go to get his disabled son, Marcus, treatment.  Marcus was disabled with both brain illnesses and severe psychosocial stressors.  Currently we found Marcus, 2 years into treatment with me, and as of yet, father and mother (divorced without amicable terms) had yet to engage in treatment with me.  They wanted to know why Marcus was the way he was.  Father pointed at Mother and Mother pointed at Father.  They blamed other things as well, the schools not providing the right services, the medications for not working, his genes, and more.  Meanwhile, Marcus is tearing up his classroom and his own life.  He is barely functional socially.  Moody and volatile.  Anxious with physical symptoms.  He was having multiple medical work-ups going successively for various physical complaints.

Before I let them go, I told his parents, “Who cares what his diagnoses are?  It’s not about the diagnosis.”  The purpose of a diagnosis is to serve the patient.  The patient doesn’t serve the diagnosis.  Right now, Marcus was serving the quest for his diagnoses.  If all they can see is that, and they miss the fact that their son isn’t functioning, he’s depressed and anxious and violent and no one can stand to be around him, Marcus is worsening continually while they go on debating – they’ve missed “IT.”

They’ve missed it.  And so have we when we waste time counting up the offenses we’ve directly or indirectly suffered.  We miss it when we increase our injury by holding ourselves responsible to our history.  I asked Marcus’ parents what the point of what they were doing for Marcus was.  I ask the victims of America, what the point is when they point to history to answer for their present condition.  If it’s not serving you well, if it’s not doing something good for you, than what are you doing with it?  Do good things for yourself.

For the victims, for Marcus, and for Marcus’ parents, 1st make sure we weren’t missing something medical that was keeping them from having life quality.  You can’t give what you don’t have.  Then move on to the psychosocial issues and spiritual and so on.  What ever we ran into that missed our point, we’d walk past it together and on to something that served us well.

If you’d like to read more on this topic, read more in “It’s Time to Grow Up” and “The Whole World Becomes Blind.”

Question:  How have you managed to move past things that weren’t serving you well?  Please tell me your story.