Am I Codependent?

To start off, this is something hard to say and practice if you are codependent “It is not my responsibility to heal, save, punish, or control other people.” Have you ever heard of the word codependent? It’s a very important word to understand. I had an idea of what it was as a teenager but as I grew into an adult I realized what it felt like. What it looked like. How I acted when I was being codependent and in a codependent relationship. Go onto google and type “define codependent” and this is what you will read, “characterized by excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically one who requires support on account of an illness or addiction.” What does that really mean though? It means that you get all of your worth and purpose from helping someone who is ill or addicted to something. Doesn’t that sound miserable? To wake up each day and know that the way you feel about yourself completely depends on a relationship that you have little control over. It’s actually quite devastating to your self esteem and mental health to live each day this way without even questioning it. Let’s dive deeper into the symptoms and signs of codependency because I’m sure you have experienced it at least once in your life. These patterns and characteristics are taken from the CoDA.org website. CoDA stands for codependents anonymous. Yeah, it’s a thing. I’ve attended meetings for about a month now. It is healing and brings a feeling of support to know that there are others struggling with this and doing there best to overcome it to better their lives.

Denial Patterns

  • have difficulty identifying what they are feeling
  • minimize, alter, or deny how they truly feel
  • perceive themselves as completely unselfish and dedicated to the well-being of others
  • lack empathy for the feelings and needs of others
  • label others with their negative traits
  • think they can take care of themselves without any help from others
  • mask pain in various ways such as anger, humor, or isolation
  • do not recognize the unavailability of those people to whom they are attracted

Low Self-esteem Patterns

  • have difficulty making decisions
  • judge what they think, say, or do harshly, as never good enough
  • are embarrassed to receive recognition, praise, or gifts
  • value others’ approval of their thinking, feelings, and behavior over their own
  • do not perceive themselves as lovable or worthwhile persons
  • seek recognition and praise to overcome feeling less than
  • have difficulty admitting a mistake
  • need to appear to be right in the eyes of others and may even lie to look good
  • are unable to identify or ask for what they need and want
  • perceive themselves as superior to others
  • look to others to provide their sense of safety
  • have trouble setting healthy priorities and boundaries

Compliance Patterns

  • are extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long
  • compromise their own values and integrity to avoid rejection or anger
  • put aside their own interests in order to do what others want
  • are hypervigilant regarding the feelings of others and take on those feelings
  • are afraid to express their beliefs, opinions, and feelings when they differ from those of others
  • accept sexual attention when they want love
  • make decisions without regard to the consequences
  • give up their truth to gain the approval of others or to avoid change

Control Patterns

  • believe people are incapable of taking care of themselves
  • attempt to convince others what to think, do, or feel
  • freely offer advice and direction without being asked
  • become resentful when others decline their help or reject their advice
  • lavish gifts and favors on those they want to influence
  • use sexual attention to gain approval and acceptance
  • have to feel needed in order to have a relationship with others
  • demand that their needs be met by others
  • use charm and charisma to convince others of their capacity to be caring and compassionate
  • use blame and shame to exploit others emotionally
  • refuse to cooperate, compromise, or negotiate
  • adopt an attitude of indifference, helplessness, authority, or rage to manipulate out comes
  • use recovery jargon in an attempt to control the behavior of others
  • pretend to agree with others to get what they want

Avoidance Patterns

  • act in ways that invite others to reject, shame, or express anger toward them
  • judge harshly what others think, say, or do
  • avoid emotional, physical, or sexual intimacy as a way to maintain distance
  • allow addictions to people, places, and things distract them from achieving intimacy in relationships
  • use indirect or evasive communication to avoid conflict or confrontation
  • diminish their capacity to have healthy relationships by declining to use the tools of recovery
  • suppress their feelings or needs to avoid feeling vulnerable
  • pull people toward them, but when others get close, push them away
  • refuse to give up their self-will to avoid surrendering to a power greater than themselves
  • believe displays of emotion are a sign of weakness
  • withhold expressions of appreciation

These are not even all of the characteristics and patterns of a codependent but if you can relate to this then you can relate to the rest of what I will talk about. Being codependent can also be described as self love deficit disorder. This rings true to me because everything you do and say and feel in a codependent relationship is fueled by your lack of self love. It is a desperate plea to yourself and the person you are toxically involved with to help you feel some kind of self worth. The only problem is this will NEVER work. Your self worth does not come from a relationship and it certainly doesn’t come from someone who is treating you poorly. You cannot earn your self worth. You cannot feel better about your self by impulsively taking care of someone else. I can guarantee that the person you are trying to take care of or save is 100% capable of taking care of them self or saving them self from the destruction they choose each and everyday. The fact that you took on the role of care taker or savior does them no good and I know that the truth is it is doing you no good. It is harming you both. Codependency is driven by the agreement that I will work harder on your problem and your life than you do. THIS IS NOT LOVE. If you feel trapped in a codependent cycle and want to heal then I would suggest reading “The Language of Letting Go” by Melody Beattie or “Codependent No More” by Melody Beattie. These books give insight, guidance, and healing. They also mention CoDA. I would start attending meetings too and finding a therapist. CoDA meetings are so helpful because they give you a support group and help you to realize other people have felt the way you feel and that there’s hope to overcome it. It’s a 12 step program to help you have healthy relationships. There are meetings all over the world. You can see if there’s one where you live on locator.coda.org. If you want to feel happy instead of trapped then I would start here. If you feel like you can’t live without someone in your life and you’re constantly thinking about them and how you can help them then that’s not healthy for you. I hope that you find peace and strength on your journey and that through your work and healing you can have happy, healthy relationships that bless your life.

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