Codependency and Self Care

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What is Codependency?

According to the article on Psychology Today by Shawn M. Burn Ph.D. Six Hallmarks of Codependence.  Codepenency is when you sacrifice your physical, mental, and emotional well being to care for, change, or rescue another.  This can be a family member like your parents, siblings, a friend, or a partner.

As Melody Beattie states in her book Codependent No More, codependency is when we take on the problems of others, pouring so much of our energy into taking care of them that we don’t have anything left for ourselves.  She further explains that codependency is on a spectrum and is mainly environmental, a coping mechanism if you will.

Wikipedia says codependency is a controversial concept for a dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person’s addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under achievement.

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Personally, I have found that in a relationship that I had with someone who suffered from a personality disorder that was untreated let alone undisclosed.  Some situations really feel dire and in some cases this situation is to control you or to test your love for them.  I believe that codependency is on a spectrum and that some people are more severe than others.

In these situations we are not codependent to begin with, but have great empathy and the lack of boundaries.  We want to show our love for the other person, only to be conditioned or forced to conform to this type of sacrificial caretaker relationship.  This happens mainly in parent-child relationships where the parent is negligent and or immature to where the child has to become the parent or caretaker in the relationship.  The only relationship the would be considered normal where one person is the sacrificial caretaker, is when a parent is the sacrificial caretaker of their child.

When we are young we think that our love or care can heal, fix, or change another person.  In reality this is hardly the outcome.  The only way another person can heal, fix, or change is by wanting to and doing the work themselves.

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How do codependent relationships hinder our self care?

  1. We have no boundaries set to draw the line.
  2. We don’t say No when we should.
  3. We are seeking the approval of others to feel fulfilled.
  4. We sacrifice our own care to care for others.
  5. We drop everything to rescue others.
  6. We are afraid to go/leave home because of what we’ll find when we return.
  7. We feel like the damage control brigade.

If you find yourself in a relationship that requires you to give all for little to no return, please go to Al-anon No relationship is worth your well being.  Relationships that force codependent behavior are toxic ones.  These relationships will further diminish our self esteem and we feel our worth is tied to the pleasure of disdain of the other person, when that is never the case.  Relationships where we bring our preconditioned codependent behavior sets the relationship up for failure.  Seeking help through an Al-anon program through the link above or by participating in individual therapy can rebuild self esteem and teach new ways to communicate, and to set boundaries.  Much love to you all.



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