Excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically a partner who requires support due to an illness or addiction.
Most people see the above definition to codependency and think that this reliance on another person is the totality of this word. It is NOT! The term has been used to describe a weak, clingy needy person who is relying on another person. That is the least of the meaning of this term. Most codependent people are very strong, resilient people. They are used to taking on everyone else’s problems, running from one crisis to the next putting out fires and being the “hero” in everyone else’s lives. Many of them give and give until they can’t give anymore. They completely deplete themselves for the sake of caring for others. Many of them go completely unappreciated for all they give and their services to others are normally deeply undervalued.
Ross Rosenberg, M.Ed., LCPC, coined the term, “Self Love Recovery” from his book: “ Self-Love Recovery, The Codependency Cure”, because at the baseline of this codependency trait is a lack of self-love. All the giving, doing and being is a feeble attempt to be or find love and validation from others because of the lack of love within self. This trait has been seen in the family members and loved ones of Alcoholics and is prevalent in Al Anon rooms but it can be seen far beyond the reaches of being affiliated with a person with an active alcohol or drug addiction in your life.
If you grew up in a home where love was a conditional thing and you felt you had to earn love and validation in your home, this can be the base of the codependency trait. If you felt like you had to be good enough to earn love, or you had to do enough you learned early that in order for you to be seen as valuable you had to perform. This then attracts people into your life that you feel you have to rescue, fix, change or help, keeping you in a toxic cycle of over giving and receiving little to nothing at all for all you give.
If you find that you have over extended yourself to the point of extreme exhaustion with no validation for your efforts you can become bitter, resentful, and angry. Many people stuff these emotions until that right moment then unleash them onto people who many times don’t even deserve the rage that they have received from the codependent. Most people don’t ever pay attention to the chemical reaction that goes on in the body of the codependent, like the high a person can get of adrenaline from rushing into a crisis. Because this chemical reaction is internal and the alcoholic’s or drug addict’s chemical is external, all the attention gets put on the person that seems to be the “problem person” in the mix while the codependent walks away looking like the hero. Truth is, the external addiction for the codependent is the person or people they rescue and the high is the chemical hit of adrenaline they get within.
Over time this chemical reaction and stress on the body can take a toll on a person. If the codependent never finds themselves hitting a bottom and doing some introspective work to pull out of this behavior, they can very well send themselves to an early grave even before the alcoholic. However, the diagnoses for the codependent will never be called by its name. It will be called; heart attack, stroke, cancer, autoimmune disease and a plethora of other issues the body has taken on because of being over worked and stressed.
Codependents are the hardest people in the world to get through to because their deeds seem so noble. They see themselves, as the hero in their book. It is very seldom that they can truly be introspective enough to see that they are just as addicted as the person with an external chemical addiction. If you see yourself in this little blog, take a moment to do some introspection. Do you rush in to other people’s crisis on a regular basis to try to “help or fix” it? Do you get anxious or nervous when you are not in charge of fixing another person’s issues or problems? Do you give to others and get resentful when they do not acknowledge your sacrifice? Do you get a high when rushing into a crisis? Do you hold hostility because you have given so much of yourself with little return? If you can see yourself in any of these questions I invite you to please find an Al Anon group in your area and attend a meeting. You will find people just like you in the rooms and your healing and recovery can begin.
You are only as sick as your secrets so take the time to release them and get well emotionally. There is no shame in taking steps to your own recovery. It is in fact one of the most courageous things you can ever do for yourself. Until next blog,
Love, Peace and High Vibrations Family