Codependency has been described in many different ways. Everything from relationship addiction, to excessively being preoccupied for another and putting your own needs lower, to having emotional and behavioral conditions that keep people locked into abusive and unhealthy relationships.
It has been said “As Codependents we come in different flavors, from martyr to victim, from rebel to doormat. “ There are many different lifestyles, backgrounds and issues for people, but codependent traits can be recognized in us and others once we can identify them:
Somewhere along the way their lives became about others.
Codependents often discount their feelings, neglect their own needs, and rely on others to tell them what they should think, feel and do. Other people began to tell them who or what they are or believe, and they started to buy it. All of a sudden it became more important to accept and comply with what others were telling them, than being authentic. People start to believe that they SHOULD be this or that and if they do get it right, then everything will be good; but that day never really comes.
Codependents self-esteem and self-worth can be almost completely dependent on getting approval from others. They can isolate from people because they are afraid to be authentic and they hide their true selves from being seen. There are often feelings of shame, fear, manipulation, control, and depression stemming from low self-value and a sense of being inadequate or flawed.
A lot of people associate codependency as something that only spouses of alcoholics suffer; but the truth is that people can have many of the patterns and characteristics of codependency and think that it’s completely normal. Chances are however, that the more behaviors, characteristics and patterns you have, the less likely you are to be having realistic, healthy relationships with yourself or others.
Patterns of Codependency
Everyone is different and we all have a different way of expressing ourselves and our pains. There are however, patterns of thinking and behavior that does appear in struggles with codependency. We don’t feel these things all the time; sometimes we feel them never, sometimes, always… it’s different for everyone at different times of our lives.
The following list that is used by Co-dependence Anonymous [CODA], and can be used for self-evaluation and understanding:
It’s hard to see if people im attracted too are unavailable
I have trouble identifying my feelings and I often deny or shift my true feelings
I don’t need others I can take care of myself
Im unselfish and I am dedicated to helping other people
I hide my pain using isolation, anger and humour
I show anger and negativity in passive indirect ways
I cant show strong feelings, I think they are a sign of weakness
I act in a way that invites rejection, shame, or anger towards me
I bring people towards me and when close push them away
I judge harshly what others think, say or do
I dont think most people can take care of themselves
I manipulate outcomes using indifference, helplessness, authority or rage
I attempt to convince others what to feel, think or do
I exploit others using blame and shame
I resent it when people reject my advice or help
I have to be needed in order to have relationships with others
I use sex to gain acceptance and approval
Low Self Esteem Patterns
I have difficulty making decisions
I get a sense of safety from others
I have difficulty admitting that I made a mistake
I judge myself harshly. I am never enough
Its embarrassing to get recognition, praise or gifts
I dont perceive myself as lovable or worthwhile
I need to appear right in the eyes of others
I seek approval and will value it higher than my own
There was a time when a lot of us created sort of an “armour’ that protected us from things that harmed us when we were younger. We needed that amour to survive.
Now however, that armour is getting far to heavy and it no longer serves us – it gets in the way of us living.