The Codependency Crutch
Codependency, or enmeshment, is what we call relationships in which one person is completely dependent on another for some, or all things, such as mood, emotional stability, security, etc. Codependency is the result of unclear boundaries, defining where one person ends and another begins. This is made worse over time by each individual lacking adequate identity, self-esteem, and accountability for one’s own choices, situation, and reactions to life events. Continued codependency prevents individuals from developing assertiveness, accountability, and independence. While this extreme dependence on another person may seem to work for a while; it is a crutch with an expiration date.
CODEPENDENCY LIVES WITH ADDICTION
It is common that people close to an addict develop codependency as they either enable using behaviors, or try to steer or save their loved one from addiction. It is also common for the addict themselves to be emotionally codependent on the loved ones in their lives. Recovery requires redefining appropriate relational boundaries to promote the overall well being of each family member while no longer promoting enablement or manipulation
Only You Can Change You
Recovery is a catalyst for long-term individual, family, and lifestyle change. However, the change begins, continues, and resonates within the individual only. Trying to force others to change, takes focus away from your recovery and challenges your overall well-being.
- Just as you loved ones may have tried to change you, and it didn't work; you cannot force them to change either.
- Relationship changes will naturally emerge from your new, more healthy. responses to challenges, arguments, and enmeshment.
- Focusing on your own self-evaluation will allow changes to emanate outwards and improve your relationships across the board.
- It takes time to transition out of long-term codependent patters; but it's worth it!
HEALTHY LOVE in any relationship is only possible when you are a healthy person; physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Respecting the needs of the self, allows you to love others in a more honest and healthy way.
ACCEPTANCE from loved ones is something that almost everyone wants. However, seeking acceptance that requires continued sacrifice of self is unacceptable. Learn to be partners in your relationships, not stepping stones for each other.
SKILL OF THE WEEK: NEEDS Vs. WANTS
When you Reflect on your relationships, ASK:
1. What do I need for me to be okay that does not depend on you?
2. What do I want from you in this relationship that makes me feel satisfied?
3. Communicate these differences with those you love.
Codependency is a prison for independence, and it stunts individual growth. The goal of healthy boundaries and functional relationships is to allow you to build and nurture your own sense of identity while creating mutually respectfully connections with the people that you love. Instead of being chained to the every thought, feeling, and action of another person at your own expense, learn to be interdependent in regards to common goals, and independent in your own identity.
Recovery IS Possible!
Meg Glidden, MS, NCC