- Excessive Care-taking: Codependents feel responsible for others’ actions, feelings, choices and emotional well-being. They try to anticipate loved one’s needs and feel obligated to meet them while often wondering why others do not do the same for them. They also often try to solve someone else’s problems, or try to change - or rescue - someone. Relationships are often based on need rather than mutual respect.
- Low self-esteem: Codependents are people who need to be needed. They will only feel important and valuable when they are helping others, and blame themselves for anything that goes wrong. They also frequently don't feel "worthy" of being loved and will be "suspicious" of receiving love.
- Denial: Codependents typically ignore, minimize or rationalize problems in the relationship, believing that “things will get better when….” They stay busy to avoid thinking about their feelings. They cover up to "protect others" from reaping the consquences of poor choices.
- Fear of anger: Codependents are afraid of both their own and their loved one’s anger, because they fear it will destroy the relationship.
I was (am) CODA, incredibly so. Recognizing this and reconditioning my responses to life was an essential part of healing after my A, because my CODA behaviors were a large part of the "brokenness" inside me that allowed me to make the asinine choice to have an A.
As I read in the Wayward forum, I see/hear many of the same thought processes I had years ago when I was new to the site. So many of them rooted in CODA thought processes. From struggling with NC (I recall feeling bad for the AP and wondering how he was doing... could I help him in any way... shouldn't I just ask him? See CODA tendancy #1)... to deciding whether or not to tell BS (I did confess - but not before letting each of the tendancies outlined above nearly change that decision)... to later forgiving myself (Self-esteem issues really played a role here... I simply was not worthy of being forgiven in my mind. But forgiving onself is a HUGE part of the healing process and something that took a LOOONG time for me to get to).
Heck, I always thought you had to have an alcoholic or some other sort of addict in your life to become a CODA... I had none of that. Very normal, loving, middle class upbringing with happily married parents. And a husband who is kind, respectful, nuturing and not at all needy. So how could I possibly be so co-dependent? But, in fact, I was.
Anyway, I am nowhere near as eloquent as others in this forum, but I just wanted to encourage waywards to consider if CODA plays a role in their brokenness. Looking at this aspect of myself helped me understand my interactions with other people - and my perceptions of myself - much better.
[This message edited by stroppy_wanadoo at 1:37 PM, January 13th (Monday)]
Looking back on my childhood I have always been that way....I think it may be one of the reasons for my A
One way of looking at co-dependency is as a form of symbiosis. If we don't take care of ourselves for whatever reason, we can get to "experience" caretaking vicariously by taking care of others. Me as caretaker plus Them as care recipient is a merged fantasy person that gets to feel good. Except the hurt part of Me doesn't really feel good, and the hurt part of Them isn't being granted the respect to make their own decisions about what would feel good. At least, that's my experience. This is another way of putting words to the fact that I have to fix the broken parts of ME in order to have a REAL loving relationship with another.
My brother and I both have differing levels of codependent behavior with our mother. Recently I was given an unofficial diagnosis for her of Histrionic Personality Disorder, it is in the same class as NPD and many of the characteristics are quite similar. I can remember thinking, when I was about 12, that it was my job to step up to the plate to help my mom when my dad's health prevented him from doing so. I've spent my entire life trying to make her happy.
All of the nontraditional stuff that made my family different, and "cool" in my mind was really nothing more than codependent behavior. Mom wanted to do something? The whole family did it, whatever it was. I never realized how damaging that would be to my efforts to establish a longterm relationship with someone not from our family. I can't believe it took me so long to realize it, and that it took me ruining my BH's universe to do so.
I'm finally cutting her off, and I just hope it isn't too late. I love my husband, and I want to establish a proper bond with him. Only him, and no one else.
I just offered this because it was very important to my healing and becoming a healthier person, for myself and my family.
Plainsong, you verbalized very well the way my CODA played out.
Best of luck to you all in your healing!
I just wanted to encourage waywards to consider if CODA plays a role in their brokenness.
But I do have a family member struggling with co-dependency issues... and this actually fits him very well. I think this will help me be more understanding, and therefore help him more.
Has anyone here participated in "Co-Dependents Anonymous" (CoDA)? It is modeled on AA. If anyone with codependency issues can report that the "12-step approach" has been useful, I might recommend it to my family member.
“When we disclose the thought and intents of our hearts in surrender, we identify with one another at depth.”