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Post Info TOPIC: Why I became codependent - my version of the dysfunctional family


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Why I became codependent - my version of the dysfunctional family

Hi, some of my story is in the other thread for the Codependent No More study group.  Long story short, I have been married for 22 yrs to a man who last year accepted he is an A and is now about 8 months sober.  About a year ago, I picked up Codependent No More and found myself described to a "T" in those pages.

Since then I have began to wonder - why did I become this way?  I am a well-educated, confident, professional woman with a high-powered career, have always been a feminist and don't put up with sexism.  Yet I became a shadow of my former self as I disappeared into his alcoholism. 

My father didn't drink a drop, and my Mom drank only a little.  So I am not an ACOA.  No one was ill in my family, and no one was abused.  However, I completely saw my family in this desription from the first thread on this message board about dysfunctional families:

A dysfunctional family is one in which members suffer from fear, anger, pain, or shame that is ignored or denied. Underlying problems may include any of the following:

  • An addiction by a family member to drugs, alcohol, relationships, work, food, sex, or gambling.
  • The existence of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.
  • The presence of a family member suffering from a chronic mental or physical illness.

Dysfunctional families do not acknowledge that problems exist. They don’t talk about them or confront them. As a result, family members learn to repress emotions and disregard their own needs. They become “survivors.” They develop behaviors that help them deny, ignore, or avoid difficult emotions. They detach themselves. They don’t talk. They don’t touch. They don’t confront. They don’t feel. They don’t trust. The identity and emotional development of the members of a dysfunctional family are often inhibited

The red highlighted portion was my family.  We did not "have emotions," or at least admit to them.  Our emotional needs were not only not met but not even acknowledged to exist.  Moreover, as the middle child, I often felt overlooked and began to do everything to excel in school in order to attract approval and attention.  Also, I now realize my Mom was a total co-dependent who lived through my Dad.  And my Dad was both a workaholic and probably had undiagnosed depression as well.   I never thought about workaholism as possibly an "addiction" that can make a family dysfunctional.

So I suppose I should no longer be so perplexed why I ended up a full-fledged codie.biggrin

-- Edited by Cl on Thursday 17th of March 2011 02:47:50 PM



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Posts: 6

Hi Cl and welcome!

I completely identify with your family life, as mine never showed any emotions. I was the product of an affair  which caused quite a scandal in my small town. My dad went back to his wife and kids and moved far away before I was even born. I was brought up by my mum, gran and aunt and my gran ruled the roost, was quite an irrationally angry women and most of the anger was focused on me possibly cause I'd brought shame to the family. I can be like her today when I don't deal with my emotions they come out sideways!!! I grew up feeling like a sordid little mistake and as things were never spoken about was also very confused as to why other people had dads and completey clueless about the bird and the bees!

I remember when I was about 14 a girl in our class died, the teachers were obviously sympathetic and allowed us to just talk about how we were feeling during lessons for a while. I was the only one who didn't cry and couldn't speak during the whole thing even at the funeral. I began to think there was something wrong with me, that I was evil or a psychopath, didn't I care? Then about 2 weeks later I was in the kitchen with my mum, and I just broke down and cried my eyes out. My mum stood up and walked out as she probably didn't know how to deal with it.

I still really struggle to cry and identify my feelings, I thought drinking was the solution to this as I thought I could finally express my feelings. The problem was that I was offloading to some unsuspecting person I'd dragged into a corner at a party!

Now I'm clean and sober the next thing I've gotta try and tackle is Identifying and managing my feelings and try to stop getting lost in other people. And I think I've found the place that can help me do this.

Look forward to growing with all of you,

Twyla xxx

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