Codependency is the most common form of addiction. It’s the disease of a lost self. A self that connects the responsibility for our life and happiness to something or someone outside of ourselves. It’s when we focus so much on things and people outside of ourselves that we lose touch with our inner self, that is, our thoughts, beliefs, feelings, experiences, intuitions, and even our physical condition.
Codependency’s roots often lie deep hidden in wounds from our childhood. The American physician, Charles Whitfield says it begins when a child’s needs are not met by their family and world, when the child does not get what they need physically, emotionally, and spiritually to develop into an adapted adult.
Such a child believes the fault lies with them, makes their parents’ inadequacy their own, and thinks their parents are right. Consequently, the child learns to miss their needs. Over the years, they can suffer emotional oppression and closure, that sometimes come to the fore in psychological conditions such as co-dependence, aggression, depression, stress, addiction, eating disorders, anxiety states, and physical illnesses.
A false self tries to please others, deserves approval, or rejects the people around them in rebellion. But the hurt, the gnawing emptiness, and the need to feel better about oneself and be accepted by others remain. Such a person tries to fill that emptiness with things from the outside, and these futile attempts often lead to some form of dependence and addiction.
Signs of a codependent relationship
In a codependent relationship we can distinguish the following signs:
- The desire to save a partner, persistent help to reinforce a sense of self-worth, the reverse side of this process is pressure and control.
- Lack of awareness of mental boundaries — both one’s own and a partner’s; their violation.
- Ignoring and misunderstanding their needs, focusing on a partner.
- The need for constant approval and support to reduce anxiety.
- Feeling yourself in the position of the victim “trapped” in the Karpman triangle.
- Suppressed or “frozen” feelings. Experience has proven that it hurts to feel, it is safer to become invulnerable and immune.
- The need to switch from obsessive thoughts and obsession with relationships, while switching to other types of addictions — shopping, alcohol, work, food.
- Displaced aggression, resentment.
- The inability to experience true love and intimacy.
- Lack of self-sufficiency, interest in oneself, one’s personality, and life. A codependent person does not have sufficient psychological maturity and awareness. A person defines his identity only through relationships.
- The responsibility for your happiness and well-being is shifted to your partner.
- Jealousy and suspicion.
In codependent relationships, the personal emotional space of one person is absorbed by the space of the other. This will inevitably lead one to the extreme not to be able to take care of themselves, but to take care of others, or to convince them that their self-worth is linked to the need for it.
Are codependent relationships viable?
In theory, some codependent relationships can be viable. This is determined, among other things, by the types of attachment of both partners.
The Bartholomew and Horowitz classification is often used here. Depending on the image of oneself and the image of others, 4 types of attachment are distinguished:
- Reliable — a person has a positive image of himself and others;
- Avoidant-rejecting — a positive image of oneself and a negative image of others;
- Anxious — a negative image of oneself and a positive image of others;
- Anxious-avoidant — a negative image of oneself and others.
Depending on the types of couples with which form a codependent relationship, options are possible:
Originally posted on Medium