Codependency is when one person is so desperate to hold onto their partner that they go through painful, often dangerous lengths, to do so. Co-dependent symptoms include denial that there is something not quite right. This can be anything from being abused to ignoring the addiction your partner has. Instead of saying something in an assertive way, you might dance around problems or say nothing at all.
What codependency is refers to behavioral problems that addicts commonly do and the people in their lives who engage and enable the habits. The term was originally labelled for alcoholism about 40 years ago. If you’re codependent and not addicted to anything, you will often be considered the enabler. While the addict continues to behave inappropriately, you may cover it up so you can maintain the image of a functional life to others. Codependent relationships can occur between a husband and wife or the whole family may become involved. Friends or coworkers may also become involved but usually, it’s hidden with the family dynamics.
What is Happening When You’re Codependent?
These are some of the common things people do when they’re in a codependent relationship. You may want to take a codependent quiz to know for sure.
- You let yourself be manipulated and controlled by someone else.
- You care so much about someone that your needs cease to matter.
- You sacrifice what you need for someone else.
- You lose a sense of your identity. This is one of the crucial signs of what codependency is.
- You take responsibility for other peoples’ mistakes. This manifests by giving unsolicited advice or trying to solve someone’s problems without them asking for it.
- Holding onto the relationship at all costs. There is a deep fear of abandonment, being left alone, and being rejected. Even though you may resent your partner for being an addict, you have a fear of them getting better. This would take away your job as their caretaker.
- Difficulty speaking with people in an assertive, real way. Confrontation is terrifying for you.
- An attempt to be perfect.
- You have a hard time being honest about your feelings.
- You engage in risky, dangerous, or illegal behaviors.
- You might even buy drugs for a significant other.
- You tend to get involved with addicts, underachievers or emotionally abusive people.
- If you’re with an addict, you’ll sacrifice all your own needs to care for them. This can include managing their life they have dropped due to their addiction.
How Does Codependency Relate to Loving an Addict?
When you’ve become caught in the cycle of a codependent partner, you may enable your partner to continue their addiction. You may do so because you’re afraid to talk to them or it may be an issue of fear that you’ll lose what you have. The addict can become dependent on you to help them cover up the damage they’re doing. You don’t want to lose your family or your life. Especially if you live with a functioning alcoholic, you can risk losing the lavish life you’re accustomed to.
What codependency is in part entails the enabling of your partner’s addiction to continue holding onto them. You may be frightened that the person will leave. In a sense the codependent partner is as damaged as someone with an addiction problem. The addict’s affliction makes them dependent on their partner which is all they could have asked for.
Co-dependency can happen in any relationship but it is most commonly known as a partnership that involves addiction. Denying the problem while attempting to control the addicts’ substance abuse or covering up for them allows the addict to continue using without consequence. The co-dependent partner feels needed and wanted which is a gap they’ve tried to fill their whole lives. While it may be viewed as a win-win situation, it’s the opposite.
Codependent No More-Some Tips to Reclaim Healthy Love
First of all, you’ll need to take care of yourself. You may want to do it while helping your partner with their addiction or you may want to help yourself first. Remembering that you’re just as important as any other person is part of your own recovery. Helping your family no longer means hiding your partners’ addiction and putting yourself at risk. There are various steps and tools you can take to release yourself from relationship codependency as well as helping your partner help themselves.
- Find Your Inner Strength to Let Go of Codependent Behaviors
As a co dependent, it is likely that you haven’t used your inner strength. Doing so will push you into helping your partner or family member regardless of how afraid you are. Even if you haven’t used your inner strength in the past, once you do, you’ll be able to move past the fear that’s holding you in the dysfunctional life you’re leading. This will help you release the fear so you’ll no longer be co dependent.
Regardless of what your partner says, you’ll be able to finally hear your intuition which will guide you to make true loving choices. To get in touch with your inner self, twelve-step groups can be helpful. You can start doing daily affirmation or visualizing the kind of life you’d like to have. Imagine that your partner is a loving person that you don’t have to take care of through addiction any longer. Getting in touch with yourself is a really important step in the process of dropping the codependency.
- Stop Being a Partner in Their Disease
If you have a partner who is an addict and you ignore the obvious signs, you are enabling them to continue. This is exactly what codependency is, allowing yourself to go through pain to save someone else. You turn a blind eye when they do hurtful things to you in order to get their fix. You stay with them and continue to say nothing as they downward spiral. You may believe that you are in some way ignoring the situation and continuing the codependent relationship out of love. In fact, you strengthen their habit to use because it sends a message that you’re accepting what they’re doing. Your satisfaction comes from taking care of others which could include micromanaging your addicted partner’s life. There is a big difference from what you think you’re doing for your partner and the reality of your actions.
When you begin to change your behaviors, you start to help your partner. In a sense, you’re throwing a wrench in their plan to continue ignoring the addiction. Once you find your power, you’ll find it easier to set boundaries for yourself. Knowing what is no longer tolerable and not allowing things to go unsaid will start to change the dysfunctional dynamics. When your partner realizes he no longer has a partner to protect their disease, they are more likely to seek out help or progress through addiction alone. That is their choice of course but at least you’re no longer helping them hurt themselves.
- Find Out More About Addiction
To stop your co-dependent behaviors, the knowledge of the situation may help you to make different choices. You will have a hard time helping your addicted partner if you don’t understand the inner workings of addiction. Doing some research on what your role is as an enabler to your partner might be a good way to start. Get to know what’s behind your actions as well as theirs. When you can educate yourself on their addiction, you are in a better place to help your family members.
- An Intervention Can Stop the Codependency/Addiction Cycle
One of the symptoms that a co dependent partner exhibits is the inability to speak their voice. This may be the reason you became an enabler in the first place, it was just easier than saying what you think. Therefore an intervention might be an easier alternative for you as opposed to mustering up the courage to say something.
When you seek out a professional who knows about addiction and is not emotionally attached to the situation, the outcome is usually much more positive. You may be keeping the secret of family addiction because of the stigma attached to it. When you seek out an intervention, the process has begun. You need this help as much as your addicted partner. Let a professional take some of the weight off your shoulders.
- Detox and Rehabilitation for the Addict
When trying to manage a heavy addiction within the family dynamics hasn’t worked, it’s advisable that your partner attend detox and rehabilitation. This may include an inpatient program where your loved one is in a clinic setting to deal with their addiction. You’ve already made some big steps in your own codependency if your partner is getting help. It’s still important for you to focus on making changes within yourself though. Your partner will be making some big changes and healing past wounds. In a sense, you’re working together even if you’re apart while they are going through their therapy.
- Seek Out Support Groups for the Family
There are many support groups that can help you, your children, and your partner. In twelve-step groups or family therapy, you can work together to start the healing process. You have the opportunity to see how you contributed to the problems. These safe places allow you to address the pain your partner put you through. With the guidance of a trained professional, you will learn how to communicate in constructive ways. This will probably be uncomfortable at first but once you start to communicate your feelings, you’ll begin to feel better. It’s also helpful to realize that many others have suffered just like you have. This will make you feel less isolated and alone.
The value of a co dependent person is based on what others think of them. In relationships, this holds a lot of weight and you’ll do whatever you can to gain the approval and admiration of your partner. When it comes to addiction, co-dependent relationships can be quite dangerous. Not only are you dealing with two different problems but the codependent partner will most likely enable the addict to continue using their substance.
You have the opportunity to break the cycle of your co dependency issues as well as helping your partner with their addiction. As you put more focus on your own healing, you can help those around you. Healing as a family may start with you so start practicing self-care and begin truly helping your partner. Surviving through recovery together will build a bond that may just give you the real kind of love you’ve been seeking your whole life.
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