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codependency revisited... do I get it now?

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Morhurt posted 2/15/2014 16:56 PM

I think I may be starting to grasp what codependent means... Please let me know if I'm on the right track.

So I used to think it had to do with caring a lot about how your spouse felt, and that seemed like a good thing. Which led to confusion on my part. Now I think it has more to do with trying to protect your partner from life, from themselves even.

Does that make sense?

Last week H and I were discussing something (to do with the kids) and I could tell he was feeling bad about how his As affected them. My first instinct was to soothe this "bad" feeling he had, to remind him of all of his awesome Dadness etc. But I didn't. I stopped myself and instead said "I'm tempted to soothe you right now and help you feel better but maybe you need to do that on your own". Is that it, did I get it?

p.s. he felt a bit hurt but realized where I was coming from and we both felt better after

thisissogross posted 2/15/2014 18:53 PM

It does seem like you're on to something. I definitely recommend 'codependent no more' by beattie if you haven't read it yet. She specifically addresses the issue of caring without violating yourself in doing so.

KatyDo posted 2/15/2014 23:57 PM

Morhurt I think you are on the right track. No longer being codependent means no longer buffering them from the consequences of their actions. It's really important that they sit with their feelings and take in the impact. I think at that point, without even saying it explicitly, you could just listen as he deals with his feeling bad.

A mistake we make I think is to try to fix them with our goodness - thinking, if they are exposed to our kindness that they will be inspired to change. From what I've read and experienced, it is actually the harsher realities that encourage growth and change in them. Otherwise they just end up taking advantage of us.

Good for you for being so insightful :)

cl131716 posted 2/16/2014 07:59 AM

Yes, that sounds about right. For me codependency meant I allowed others to use me and felt I deserved it. I tried to rescue WH when he was in trouble and I tried to control his feelings and actions. I made him the center of my universe and forgot about me. I'm also very passive aggressive. The more you learn about codependency the more you notice all the dysfunctional behaviors you once thought were "normal". It's amazing when you start to wake up to the fact that love is not meant to be this way and you do deserve better.

morethantrying posted 2/16/2014 23:56 PM

so what is the difference between being co-dependent and being loving?

WARNING: I am working this out in my mind as well so the words below may sound harsh!!!!!!

When a spouse has remorse, also, I don't think it is very loving to "not show support anyway you can...they are not kids so tough love?...not sure.

IMO it is not that you are letting them "get away with it", by showing sympathy, understanding and caring...or by doing something like pretending all is ok. But I don't think not showing understanding of their suffering always helps the recovery and rebuilding either....

Of course and if you (me) can move on, be happy, let some of it "just go" perhaps that is being LOVING rather than co-dependency. We are not talking about substance abuse here, but an emotional issue where TWO people are tying to have a RELATIONSHIP...a loving relationship is, where both depend on each is not 100% equal...never, because people all have different strengths and weakness so it cannot, therefore ever be 100% equal in that sense. It actually helps me to think that he (I) has a weakness that I do not(not necessarily the affairs) and that I(he) can be stronger emotionally on some stuff and help us R....a relationship takes TWO...reflection on both sides is important,YES....

But when you INTERACT in the RELATIONSHIP ZONE you want something positive to happen there. YES< it is sometimes hard to know if what you are doing will be positive or negative or neutral....ahhhhh, yes, good intentions no matter how well thought out can go wrong....

SO if I am the stronger one, who can see what he cannot, be a little exgtra forgiviing,becasue he just has limits with what he can do for the relationship (this does not mean he is not trying) than I think it is being LOVING when someone asks for emotions support, and you give it to them...

I guess I think it helps more to help them where they may need it than not to...than they are not getting what they need from you and THAT is a problem ....If I am capable, I WILL give and not be resentful that GOD game me a bit more capacity to be GIVING in this way ....this is another perspective on this...again not talking about substance abuse, or physical abuse or extreme emotional abuse here. Nor am I talking about ignoring my own needs...I am just talking about giving where I have the emotional capacity to do so and NOT holding back....if it makes him feel loving towards me because I do this, that is a great thing for our relationship...I should not RESENT that I am able to do this and I DO do this for him...isn't that just being loving?

[This message edited by morethantrying at 11:59 PM, February 16th (Sunday)]

Rebreather posted 2/17/2014 00:10 AM

Mor, I think you are beginning to see where the lines can be drawn between being supportive and rescuing. So many waywrd's affairs are their escape from pain. They forget how to manage every day trials and certainly they forget that feeling pain isn't going to kill them. I think you did well. You don't have to be cold or anything, but there were many times my response was merely, "that must be very painful for you."

Morhurt posted 2/17/2014 00:58 AM

Thank you everyone. This topic has weighed on me a lot for some reason so it feels good to be starting to grasp it.
I realize my example sounded cold but I am very loving and our relationship is close and supportive. I often hug and hold my H when he is hurting but it's different... It's supportive rather than shielding I think. Does that make sense?
Anyway, I hope I have time to discuss it with IC this week too.
Thanks for the input. :)

morethantrying posted 2/17/2014 03:01 AM

Yes, I agree...I am SURE you are very supportive. When I thought more it is about being an "enabler" to the extent that it helps them "deny"...that is different from being supportive and loving...

I think co-dependency is a pretty tough word to be reserved for real cold-hearted cases where the WS hasn't a clue and continues to deny and it looking for someone to support his/her "habit"...being loving and supportive is not that...IMO anyway, when you love and support someone, tell them the truth, that which is hard to hear, but then are supportive and loving...that is not something to call co-dependency....

working though this as I write myself!

sisoon posted 2/17/2014 03:42 AM

I'm with Rebreather, and I think you either get it or you're on your way.

From another POV: Like you, sometimes I'm uncomfortable with my W's pain. The Co-D approach is to mitigate my own pain by doing something to shield her from her pain. The authentic approach is for me to soothe myself and possibly to help my W soothe herself, if she wants that help.

From yet another POV: Suppose I feel happy while my W is feeling sad. The Co-D approach is for one of us to take on the other's feelings and stuff our own. Authenticity requires us each to feel our own feelings while acknowledging the other's, and even to give or offer support to the partner who needs it - but my feelings are mine, and hers are hers.

[This message edited by sisoon at 3:44 AM, February 17th (Monday)]

blakesteele posted 2/17/2014 06:13 AM

Great post are onto something....enjoy all the other posts to this thread too.

KatyDo, Rebreather and Sisoon mentioned everything I would.

It is VERY challenging at first to refrain from easier for me to DO than to wait on being asked for help. My fear was that my wife would never ask for my help....and I would feel rejected.

In a odd way....adultery, being the ULTIMATE show of rejection has helped me see that I am fine without my wife. It also showed me, in no uncertain terms, how inept my co-dependent FOO issues were at protecting me.....and took the blinders I had on my eyes as to who my wife really is and what she is capable of.....what I am capable of too.

I now have a choice. I can try, in vain, to protect myself using old coping skills or I can be radically honest and live intentionally and courageously.....

I gotta tell you.....I still have urges inside me to do what I have done for decades.....but I am changing.

They say that slow change is the path to permanent change.

God be with us all.

hpv50 posted 2/17/2014 11:19 AM

I find the concept of co-dependency very confusing (and borderline nebulous). Read five books, and get five different pseudo-definitions.

More importantly, regardless of what you want to call your scenario, Morhurt, I think you handled it well.

My therapist says my WH is very co-dependent on me, and I'm still not sure exactly what that entails. One example she (and our MC) used is that when I'm happy, my WH is happy, and when I'm upset, he is, too.

rachelc posted 2/17/2014 11:43 AM

when I'm happy, my WH is happy, and when I'm upset, he is, too.

mine too. his biggest trigger is my unhappiness. But Saturday night we had a fight and i didn't step in the mess. I'm learning.

[This message edited by rachelc at 11:43 AM, February 17th (Monday)]

sisoon posted 2/17/2014 12:24 PM

...when I'm happy, my WH is happy, and when I'm upset, he is, too.

Sounds like him trying to adopt your feelings instead of having his own. I believe that leads to a build-up of stuffed feelings and resentment.

I hope your H is changing himself.

My W was similar. She was often angry when she tried to feel good and bad following my cycle instead of her own. One result was that she became a KISA and, in Drama Triangle terms, a Rescuer toward ow2B. When ow2B switched from Victim to Persecutor, my W's pain came to the fore, and the easiest way to avoid the pain was to cheat. Alas, that only avoided the pain for a while. She's changing, and she's getting more out of life, I believe.

Morhurt posted 2/17/2014 12:45 PM

See, I'm more the opposite, when H feels low I feel anxious to "help" right away. I can't be "ok" when he's upset. Well, I'm getting there, I'm recognizing it.

Another challenge for me (that feels codependent- I'm going to use CD from now on, too long of a word!) is my fear of upsetting him. He is totally remorseful and doesn't get upset when I talk about the A or my feelings or anything else (there was an incident about a month ago that some may remember but it seems to have blown away the last vestige of defensiveness). And yet... I preface my feelings with "I'm not saying this to hurt you" or "I feel so awful telling you these things". That feels like CD to me.

But I remind myself, this is a process. I've been CD my entire life and I can't change over night.

tushnurse posted 2/17/2014 16:24 PM

For me Codependent meant doing everything in my power to keep him happy and content. No matter the effect on my. I based my well being and happieness on his. If he was Happy the world was good, if not It wasn't. Honestly that is a f'd up way of living.

I have now found that if I depend on me to be happy. It is incredibly freeing to know that I am responsible for my own happiness, and he is for his.

Read Codpendent no more, it can be quite the eye opener if you are ready for it.

(((and strength))))

Rebreather posted 2/17/2014 16:30 PM

FTR, I didn't think your example sounded remotely cold.

Remember a huge portion of coD is needing to be needed, deriving your sense of self worth from saving others. That does no good for the savee. The growth comes from doing it themselves.

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