Whenever I heard the term “Codependent” I always had a misconstrued version of it in my mind. CO-DEPENDENT. What did that mean? Surely it must just mean depending on others. What’s so wrong with that? Well once I started taking the follow up class to “Making Peace With Your Past” and dove into “Conquering Codependency” I found out there was much more to it than my basic definition.
Codependency is a compulsion and addiction to control and rescue people by fixing their problems. This occurs when a person’s needs for love and security are not met. Codependents have an imbalanced sense of responsibility to rescue, fix, and/or help people who usually don’t want their help. People either consciously or unconsciously deprive the codependent of needed love and attention so the codependent rescues as a way to gain that love that he or she needs.
Wow! That actually sounded just like me. Finally, I could at least put a label on why I acted the way I did. I’d gone 40 years of my life with this type of mentality. Flashbacks on how I reacted to situations in my marriage and in my childhood with my alcoholic mother flooded my mind. I could finally start bringing the whole picture into focus that had been so distorted and work on managing the codependent part of me. It’s who I’d always been and what I’d always known but I knew it had to change. I don’t believe you are ever cured from this type of behavior but I think it can be managed. It’s something I have to keep reined in with each and every relationship that I have in my life.
In going through this 12 week course/12 Step Program, I was able to link my Codependent personality to my childhood and being raised by a mother that struggled with alcohol abuse for most of my life. Even today, although my mother has been sober for 22 years, there is a constant struggle to keep the relationship from derailing. It falls in and out of estrangement partially due to the fact that I’ve built boundaries and I refuse to agree to a distorted reality just so she is always right in her mind. Did I used to be that person? Yes. I was the one to pacify and agree just to keep the peace. Even if it put all blame on me. I wanted to keep my mother in my life but over time I was hurting myself. Feeling worse as a person the more I took on which was actually not my responsibility. Not speaking up. Not wanting to rock the boat. I just wanted to agree so she’d see me as worthy or loveable and keep the relationship in tact.
I’m so grateful for the 12 Step Program this course offered because it truly allowed me to sprout my wings and become a healthier person. Learning to identify and decide how to proceed with each situation that may threaten the boundaries I’d built. Healthy boundaries….not the ones where I’d completely withdraw and put myself high up in a castle with a moat complete with sharks around it so no one could reach me. I needed to create a boundary as in a quaint home with a white picket fence and a “Gone Fishing” sign out front where others would respect the sign and step back and not force me to go running up into a castle to get away from behaviors I protected myself from.
Also, learning to say “NO” was ok and not feel bad. Say what you mean…mean what you say! I was always the “Yes” girl. Agreeing to do things or commit to things that I really didn’t want to. I’ve done much better with being true to me!
The 12 week course was called:
Conquering Codependency – A Christ Centered 12 Step Process by Pat Springle
I share that with all of you because if you can relate to anything I’ve written about above you may want to look into this workbook. It was this course that I believe solidified finding out who I was, why my relationships were the way they were, and finally finding a good relationship with ME!