It seems as if the term “codependent” is thrown around quite loosely within the majority of recovery communities. The term has almost gained a somewhat slang definition, referring to someone who spends too much time with someone else or who does a favor for a friend. Very few truly understand the gravity of codependency, an unfortunate and potentially devastating mental state that has a 12-step fellowship all of its own based on the destructive role it has played in the lives of many. What is codependency really, and how do you know if you are personally afflicted?
Codependency is defined as “excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically a partner who requires support due to an illness or addiction”. Under most cases of codependency is a core dependence on other people for approval and identity. The entire notion of codependency stems from the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous, when the realization occurred that prolonged active addiction was not solely contributed to the addict him or herself, but also to his or her family members and loved ones. Al-Anon, founded 16 years after Alcoholics Anonymous in 1951, first popularized the concept of codependency in relation to the families of those suffering from substance dependency. The notion was even further popularized in 1986 with Melody Beattie’s novel, “Codependent No More”, which sold 8 million copies. Nowadays, codependency does not just refer to those involved with someone suffering from addiction – though the term is the most prevalent throughout recovery communities.
Codependency is currently referred to as ‘the disease of lost self’. It is characterized by caring feelings and behaviors that are excessive to an unhealthy degree, and a lack of conscious choice in motivation. Codependent relationships can be easily determined by blatant intimacy problems, control, denial, dysfunctional communication, dependency, inability to set boundaries, and a reactivity that tends to be higher than normal. Listed below are several typical symptoms of a codependent individual or relationship.
Symptoms Of A Codependent Individual or Relationship
- Inability to tolerate being alone
- Panicked efforts to avoid being alone
- Unavoidable feelings of emptiness and intense boredom
- Unstable interpersonal relationships
- Intensity is all or most relationships
- Neglecting one’s own needs in order to take care of the needs of others
- Low sense of self-worth
- An overwhelming desire for attention and acceptance
If you truly are suffering from codependent tendencies, you will likely notice a significant decrease in the quality of your own life. You will constantly feel uneasy, and only attain a feeling of peace when you are receiving praise and affection from the individual you are in a codependent relationship with. Still, you may never be quite satisfied. If you believe you are in a codependent relationship and need help in order to get out of it, we are here to assist you in any way necessary.