A national epidemic?
Have you ever wondered why you seem to constantly have bad luck in relationships? Or, if there are any healthy people out there? That you seem to attract partners afraid of commitment. Or wounded stray puppy partners that you are determined to change, save, and heal. Or partners that leave you feeling empty, unappreciated, and abandoned. That make you wonder if there is something wrong with you. Or, all the above. Welcome to Codependency! It is such an important topic, we spend an entire chapter on it (Chapter 5: "Codependency: The National Epidemic") in A Fresh Cup of Counseling: A Handbook of Spiritual Counseling. In case you are still wondering what it is, take this little questionnaire. How many apply to you?
I often bring partners into my life who are afraid of commitment (commitment-phobes). They end up abandoning me.
I have a tendency to bring partners into my life who need to be rescued and I play the Rescuer Role. I thought I could help them change.
A number of my partners have had difficulties with addictions (alcohol, marijuana, drugs, sex/porn, work); and/or exhibited poor anger control and abusive behavior (physical, mental, verbal, sexual). I thought I could help them change.
A number of my partners were emotionally unavailable. They were either too clingy, smothering, and needy, or too cold, controlling and distant. Either way, it was about them, not me.
A number of my partners were distrustful, jealous and possessive.
I have been physically abused by a partner.
I have been verbally and emotionally abused by a partner.
I have been cheated on by a partner.
I came from a mild to severely dysfunctional family background.
I often feel I am not good enough or that I have to try harder than others.
I tend to give far more in my relationships and friendships, than I receive. They are not very mutual or reciprocal relationships.
I have difficulty saying no. I always try to please people, even if it is not what I want to do.
I have difficulty receiving: love, compliments, praise, etc.
I have my Pretend “It’s okay or I’m fine” Face. I don’t let people know when something bothers me and keep my feelings inside.
It seems that there is always a lot of drama in my relationships.
After one of these relationships is over, I feel emotionally drained and that somehow, I lost myself in the relationship. I lost my identity.
After one of these relationships is over I come out with far greater financial problems than before the relationship. Somehow, I lost a lot of money while in the relationship.
So, if you’ve figured out you might be a tad codependent, let’s define the term more precisely. In the mid-1980s, I ran a Codependency Program called Generations. That is the first piece of the definition: it is a learned behavior passed from generation to generation. Secondly, it stems from coming from a dysfunctional family. Dysfunctional families have one or more of these characteristics: alcohol or other addiction (drugs, work, sex) issues; physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual abuse behaviors; or family members suffering from a serious chronic mental or physical illness. According to Virginia Satir, founder of the Family Therapy field, she felt that 80% of families were dysfunctional (mildly to severely), 12% were adequate, and 8% were optimal. That is a lot of family dysfunction and a lot of feelings of abandonment. Finally, codependency is seen through a pattern of emotionally destructive relationships that are often one-sided and may involve partners with abusive, addictive or rejecting tendencies. An older term for codependency was Relationship Addiction. In other words, we kept bringing this pattern of relationships into our lives, and it was often emotionally devastating to break up with these partners no matter how harmful they or the relationship was to us. (I speak from past experience.) So, guess what? You don’t have to worry about finding your perfect codependent match anymore. You don’t have to follow your parents’ unhealthy scripts anymore. You don’t have to suffer anymore. This is what we specialize in—helping people break these destructive and self-destructive patterns in their love relationships and friendships. It always has to do with low self-esteem or some “legacy programming” consciously or unconsciously received as children. We may even mirror the dysfunction of our families in our own adult relationships. Join us today in breaking the pattern! You have the right to a loving, healthy relationship, and if you are a parent or plan to be one, break the pattern for your children as well.
If you would like to break your Codependency patterns, contact me at 786-201-2468 and our Inner Life Transformations counseling staff will be glad to help. We see people in-person locally and online around the world.
Some great books to help: Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood Codependent No More and The New Codependency by Melodie Beattie Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them by Susan Forward The Courage to Heal by Laura Bass and Ellen Davis