Recognizing Codependent Behavior

Are You Codependent?

Recognizing and Healing From Codependency

Written by Randi Fine

I am a fully recovered codependent of over thirty years. While in the midst of my disorder, life was a series of one painful, traumatic event after another. I did not recognize my problem or begin to heal from it until I hit bottom; when there was no where to go but up.

Codependency is a disorder that develops over time. Dysfunctional childhood patterns that interfere with the person’s ability to form healthy relationships lie dormant for many years; the problem only surfaces once the person begins to experience adult relationships.

Codependents do not usually recognize that their behavior is unhealthy, and so they go from one unsatisfying toxic relationship to another.  These relationships always end in heartbreak without the codependent ever understanding the primary role he or she played in its demise.

Codependents fear vulnerability. They feel undeserving, not worthy of having others meet their needs, so they put themselves in the role of perpetual caregiver. They believe that they must earn love to get it; fear that if they do not measure up to others’ expectations they will be abandoned. Their fear of others’ being angry with them and/or rejecting them largely determines all their actions and reactions within the relationship.

Codependents often they feel as if they do not deserve a better relationship than they already have. They fear giving up the false security it provides them, therefore resign themselves to always settling for second best. At the same time that they are feeling these insecurities, codependents may become angry because they are also feeling used and unappreciated by those they are trying desperately to help. When they do attempt to stand up for themselves, they feel guilty because they are taking rather than giving. They become trapped in a maze of heartbreaking confusion and disappointment.

Codependent people do not know that love is not supposed to be painful. I grew up in a drama laden, angry home where my parents fought constantly. What was so confusing is that they often told me and my sisters how much they loved each other.  That made a deep impression on my developing mind; somewhere along the line that twisted message translated into “love hurts.” I grew up believing that true love was supposed to be painful; all my adult relationships reflected that way of thinking. Every one of them was drama laden and traumatic. Crazy as it seems, even as I think back from a healthy perspective, I thought that pain proved the depth of a couple’s love and commitment to each other.

Codependents believe that they have to have another person in their lives in order to survive. What they do not realize is that they have an addiction and the object of their affection is their drug. They believe to the core of their being that what they feel is deep love and that their behavior is loving, but they do not love in a healthy way. What they perceive as love is in fact parasitic neediness.

Codependent people must learn to get their emotional needs met without making
others dependent on them.  They must also learn to give up their job as a people pleasers.  The healing process reinforces that taking care of their own needs before the needs of others does not make them selfish people.

Codependent behaviors prevent us from finding peace and happiness with the most important person in our lives–ourselves. Codependency is a mental health issue that can only be healed if it is recognized. Recovery is about learning to establish healthy
boundaries in all areas of life.

Though codependency is an addiction, it is one can be fully recovered from. Once recognized it takes lots of time, patience, and support to heal from. It also takes honest reflection and great determination, but all efforts are worth it.

Great freedom and serenity comes with the healing. No longer codependent, people can easily embrace positive feelings like love, happiness, and fulfillment. They can give when they want to; not out of insecurity or the expectation of others.

Many people enjoy helping and caring for others. The thing to remember in all our relationships is that there should always be balance and compromise.

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