Is Codependency Ruling My Relationships?

 

Before we can implement various strategies to eliminate the dysfunctional patterns unique to codependency, we must know what we’re up against.

Are your relationships marked with codependency characteristics?

Let’s take some time to explore this question.

People who manifest patterns of codependency are not always just clingy with their life partners or worried about their loved one who struggles with addiction. Anyone who satisfies their needs or provides them with comfort and security is an “eligible candidate” for the role of “codependent” partner. That includes close friends, family members, coworkers and pretty much anyone who is willing to take the role of financial or emotional “provider”.

Codependency is something that can characterize the entire relationship.

Whether it’s a romantic relationship or a close friendship, the absence of boundaries and limits can have unpleasant consequences. We all need to have our own space. Just because we’re extremely close with someone doesn’t mean we can’t have our own inner world, our secrets, and our freedom.

Besides, a romantic partner, a friend or a family member is an individual with whom you grow personally, emotionally, spiritually, etc. and share good and bad experiences with. They’re not to be the center of your universe or the provider of all your needs.

I like what this scripture in Matthew 6:33: 

Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

In other words, put God first. Let God be the center of your universe, and as you remain aligned there, your needs will be met. 

We’re going to take a little quiz in just a moment to see if you’re struggling with codependency characteristics. But first, let’s look at just how codependency can bring pain to our lives.

The worst consequence of codependency

Let’s say your partner is your “significant other”- the one person in this whole world that completes you (at least that’s how you describe him/her).

Sounds quite romantic, right?

However, is that how a healthy and functional relationship looks like? Is that the kind of relationship that we should cultivate and nurture? Unfortunately, we can’t answer with a clear “YES” or “NO”. As always, there’s a significant number of variables to take into account, so the answer might be somewhere in the middle.

Best-case scenario is that you’re in a healthy relationship where you rely on each other to grow as a team and still enjoy a certain amount of freedom that allows you to grow individually.

Sounds great, right?  To know you can go to your partner, knowing he or she has your back, yet at the same time being free enough to think your own thoughts, do your own thing, or feel independent. Trusted.

Sadly, this is rarely the case.

Many people who say, “We were meant for each other”, “He/she is my soulmate”, “We’re inseparable” and so on, are likely to confuse authentic love with codependency.

Slowly, but surely, they lose their identity and their original and unique self, and that’s the most tragic consequence of codependency.

The two partners are no longer two singular personalities working together to create something beautiful.

Instead, they become two pieces of a puzzle that, if separated, would lose all meaning. Even worse, they go on a frantic search to try to fill their emotional gaps or compensate for their personal shortcomings by entering codependent relationships with other partners that (they think) will make them feel “complete”.

So, what’s the problem with that?” you might ask.

First, a healthy individual should feel complete even in the absence of a partner. Being with someone who loves you and wants to contribute to your personal development is not the same as being with someone who takes care of your emotional needs because you don’t want to or can’t or someone who relieves your anxiety from a dis-connection from your true self.

Did you get that? Someone who relieves your anxiety that stems from your dis-connect with your true self and God.

Freedom is a crucial aspect of maturity, and if you trade yours in exchange for codependency, you’ll not likely be able to express your true self, your individuality, and uniqueness.

Second, losing your identity can easily trigger an existential angst that will only make your personal and relational life worse.

Since the meaning of your life somehow gravitates around your partner, losing them is equal to losing your thirst for life.

You somehow feel incomplete; you feel like something is missing and no matter what you do, you can’t fill that emotional void. In a sense, it’s the proverbial seeking “out there” to fill this inner void that only God/Spirit can fill. 

But there’s a silver lining here, because some people manage to recover from this devastating loss by investing their time and energy in other areas of their life. Some choose to focus on their careers or spirituality, their relationship with God, others discover new hobbies, and there are those who rethink and reshape their entire personality.

In other words, they “do the inner healing work”.

Regardless of how you decide to deal with the negative effects of codependency, one thing’s for sure – it’s time to get rid of the dysfunctional patterns that cause you to seek dependency (or those struggling with drinking or drugging) in every new relationship. If not, chances are you’ll follow the same trend as before and eventually end up in another codependent relationship, and another and so on.

A short quiz

To determine your level of codependent behavior, read the following statements and give your honest answer, depending on how well each statement describes your behavior in a relationship. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being little, and 5 being a lot, write down the number that corresponds to your answer.

 {1 = not much   3 = sometimes   5 = for sure!}

1

I can’t imagine life without my partner.

         

2

There are many tasks/activities that I can’t do, so I usually ask my partner to take care of them.

         

3

As a child, I never had too much freedom.

         

4

Without my partner, I wouldn’t be able to take care of myself (financially, emotionally, etc.)

         

5

I get anxious/stressed/worried/restless if I don’t speak with my partner on a regular basis (at least once every 2-3 hours).

         

6

My partner and I do everything together.

         

7

I need my partner to agree with every task/project/activity that I do.

         

8

I tend to get bored when my partner’s not with me.

         

9

I’m having trouble sleeping without my partner.

         

10

I find it difficult to hang out with other people, if my partner is not there too.

         

Sum up all the answers, and the final score will indicate your level of codependent behavior. Anything past 32 is an indicator of at least some form of codependent behavior. Also, any item that is rated with five indicates the presence of codependency on some level. Reflect on that item and see if you can find an explanation.

CODEPENDENT CHARACTERISTICS

In addition, look at the following characteristics and see what ones resonate with you. Circle or underline the characteristics that you are struggling with. The ones that drive you crazy (or your partner). The ones you want to overcome!

You may read through and feel strongly that you are living life married to these characteristics. If so, know that there is certainly help available to manage and/or overcome codependency.

Care Taker:  You love to take care of things and people. You are drawn to those who need a lot. You take care of everything and feel insulted if you are not allowed to.  At the same time, you have a hard time accepting help.  You like to feel needed. You take on too much, must be giving, and can’t say no.

Low Self-esteem: You blame yourself for so much. You don’t think much of yourself. You feel you’re not good enough.  You can’t take criticism or compliments.  You have a victim mentality. You fear rejection and abandonment, take everything personal, carry shame, guilt, always feel strong on the outside, but weak and worthless on the inside.

Controlling:  You are great at subtle manipulation and may try to control everything and everyone.

Dependent:  You find dependence on others to provide happiness or fulfillment.  You do not feel good about yourself or being alone.  You do not love yourself. You believe that others have abandoned you and that present people are not there for you.  You need others more than want them, revolve your life around another person, and stay with that person even if that person is emotionally absent or abusive.

Little communication skills:  You have a hard time communicating needs and emotions.  If your feelings will cause conflict, you will repress them.  Everything is your fault and you apologize a lot.

Little Boundaries:  You let others treat you badly, criticize, and hurt you.  You stay in toxic relationships because of the kids, or you’re fearful of being alone, or you think you deserve crappy things.  

No fun: It is difficult for you to let loose and have fun. You are serious most of the time. You feel like you don’t deserve to have fun, can be irresponsible, and may not want to take care of yourself or your responsibilities.

Do you identify with a lot of these characteristics? If so, you most likely have codependent tendencies.  Answer these questions to the best of your ability:

  • Have you lived with an alcoholic/drug addict growing up? Write what comes to mind about this briefly.
  • Are you extremely sensitive? Worried what others think?
  • Do you have a hard time sharing your feelings?
  • Do you have a hard time saying no? Who do you have a hard time saying no to?
  • Do you take on too much? Like what?
  • Do you have a hard time receiving compliments or gifts? Do you automatically spill out how cheap that dress was or minimize yourself when you get a compliment?
  • Do you do, do, do and then wish someone would help or rescue you?
    Do you feel alone?
  • Do you keep your feelings inside to avoid conflict? When is the last time you remember causing rift in a relationship? Based on stating what it was YOU wanted?
  • Are you a jealous person?
  • Do you want all your partner’s attention? Do you get jealous when your partner wants to hang out with friends or family?
  • Do you text, text, text your partner and get mad if they don’t text back right away? (Or do you sneak peaks at the cell phone?)
  • Do you stalk your partner’s Facebook page?

If you answered yes to at least five of these questions, you would benefit from learning more about codependency and recovery tools in order to have an optimal relationship with yourself and others.

This is just a summary of what codependency is. The reality is that codependency is a very broad term and can branch off into other issues. I really just want you to understand that codependency is a style of relating to others.

If you have codependency characteristics, there is healing and help available.  You do not have to live with an unhealthy attachment to yourself or others. You do not have to live feeling so alone.

In fact, at the very core of codependency is this feeling of being alone and separated from something BIGGER. (like God)

It’s has a spiritual root.

Now, moving forward with a little bit better understanding of codependency, I want you to get excited about your potential for healing and growth as you continue, regardless of what your partner is doing or not doing.

You’re not alone in your journey of overcoming codependency.

In fact, much of humanity has lost touch with itself and God (however one defines God). Many people are experiencing damage to their souls daily. Masses are drowning in some sort of dependent attachment to people and things, chipping away at their souls, and therefore, not walking in peace and joy. They’re not able to really shine brightly in the world in ways that can help alleviate suffering, because they’re stuck suffering in their own wounds.  

Now, it’s up to each soul, one by one, journeying back and digging deep to uncover old wounds, trauma, etc., begin healing, reprogramming the mind, calling back the parts of us that we’ve lost, and re-connecting with God (Love) at the core.

So that Love and Light can radiate and touch the world.

I’m excited for you.

One of my favorite motto’s is:

“Nothing changes if nothing changes”.

So, if you want change, determine to go about your life differently, embarking on a journey toward healing and self-love.

 

“In Me, you belong everywhere.” God

Assignment:

Visit the Codependent’s Anonymous website to look at the wealth of information and resources available, as well to locate support group meetings: http://coda.org/index.php. Go ahead and bookmark it, as it will come in handy for your recovery.

Check out this link right now. It’s the 12 Promises of Codependent Anonymous. I would read this often and in fact, I printed it out and taped it to my bathroom mirror, so I could be reminded that LIFE COULD BE BETTER!

I really resonated with the first promise and clung to it for dear life!

“I know a new sense of belonging. The feeling of emptiness

and loneliness will disappear.”

You can find the 12 Promises of CODA Here! 

Prayer:

“God, help me to understand that my partner’s issues are not mine and vice versa. Each of us has things to work on; things that You’ll help us with.  I know Your plans are good for me and I’m trusting You to lead my path.”