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Post Info TOPIC: Book Study: Codependent No More - Chapter 3


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Book Study: Codependent No More - Chapter 3
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Relationships are like a dance, with visible energy racing back and forth between the partners.  Some relationships are the slow, dark dance of death.  - Colette Dowling

Up to this point, the author has been using stories from others to give examples of the different ways codependency is exhibited in their lives.  But what is Codependent?

"The obvious definition would be: being a partner in dependency."  But that is still vague.  When the author wrote this book, there was not much available on the subject and the definitions seemed unclear or full of jargon.  So she tries to define Codependent / Codependency for us.

What is Codependency?

Melody gives many short definitions of Codependency from authors, specialists and codependents themselves.  Ernie Larsen, a specialist in the field says, "Those self-defeating, learned behaviors or character defects that result in a diminished capacity to initiate or to participate in loving relationships."

Some codependents say things like, "It means I'm always looking for someone to glob onto."  "Codependency means I'm up to my elbows in alcoholics", says another.  Some therapists say "Codependency is anything, and everyone  is codependent."

To better understand she walks through the history of Codependency.

A Brief History

The word codependent seems to have appeared in the late 70's and it is unclear where it originated.  Originally it was used to solely describe those people whose lives had been affected by people who were chemically dependent.  It had been long suspected that this set of people, who were not chemically dependent, shared similar traits to the addicts in their lives - be it physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.  Supporting this theory we see that soon after the creation of Alcoholics Anonymous, another support group was founded called Al-Anon.  This group was primarily wives of alcoholics who needed help in dealing with how their spouses' alcoholism affected them. 

So, when the term Codependent emerged in the late 70's it was assumed it meant "were people whose lives has become unmanageable as a result of living in a committed relationship with an alcoholic."

As time has passed we have come to understand more about codependency.  More has been learned about the dynamic of families that contain one or more persons with compulsive disorders, not just alcoholism, such as overeating, gambling, and so on.  The more this was examined, the more it became apparent that many people are codependent.  This could include adult children of alcoholics, parents of problematic children, people in relationships with irresponsible people and those in "care-taking" professions such as nurses or counselors.  Even some recovering alcoholics came to the realization that they may have been codependent long before they exhibited signs of alcoholism.

There is a common family trait seen in codependency.  It is seen in the alcoholic family structure, but other families as well.  Families that have rules that prohibit free expression of feelings, being human, being vulnerable, playing or having fun, trust and openness. 

There are a lot of different people, family structures, examples of codependency and how it has manifested and exhibited.  So what is the definition?  All of them.  "I'm no trying to confuse you.  Codependency has a fuzzy definition because it is a gray, fuzzy condition.  It is complex, theoretical, and difficult to completely define in one or two sentences."

With that said, the author does try to define it in one sentence - with the hope that all the history given will help you understand this short version more completely:

"A codependent person is one who has let another person's behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person's behavior."

She goes on to explain who this "other person" is.  It may be anyone.  But the core of the issue is not them, as much as we don't like that.  It is ourselves.  It is about how we let others affect us, our "other-centeredness", and the harming behaviors we exhibit.  Some professionals believe that it is a progressive disease, an illness, while others don't. 

Melody believes the codependent condition goes back as far as humans.  She states that there have always been people who care too much, try to control, believe they deserve less, and make themselves sick around the behavior of others.  It is not about Codependents being "bad", they do good deeds.  It is about what their "need to help" does to themselves.  "As Thomas Wright writes in an article from the book Co-Dependency, An Emerging Issue, 'I suspect codependents have historically attacked social injustice and fought for the rights of the underdog.  Codependents want to help.  I suspect they have helped.  But they probably died thinking they didn't do enough and were feeling guilty.'"

The word to focus on with Codependency is "react".  "Codependents are reactionaries.  They overreact.  They underreact.  But rarely do they act."  Melody does not come to the conclusion that Codependency is a disease, but she does feel it is progressive.  Small issues they react to can get blown out of proportion and cause depression, anxiety, and even thoughts of suicide.  "Codependency may not be an illness, but it can make you sick.  And, it can help the people around you stay sick."  It causes behaviors that keep of us from having healthy relationships, most importantly, with ourselves.

Activities

1.  How would you define codependency?
2.  Do you know anybody that has significantly affected your life, somebody what you worry about and wish you could change?  Who?  Write several paragraphs about that person and your relationship.  Later, read what you wrote.  What are your feelings?



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Hi,
For me codependency issues were well disguised. As I traveled the road of recovery I discovered why.
The issues were woven into the tapestry of who I was. Developed as an unknowing child. Survival skills.
Ways to cope. How could I know the skills I was learning would some day try to destroy me.
Taking the little me by the hand today and gently experiencing New ways of coping and acting, responding,
loving, is why I am here. I do not have the Power to remove the threads of codependency for the tapestry of my being.
I do not have the skills. I would pull the wrong threads out and my whole life would UNRAVEL. So I recognize my need of a power Greater than myself.
I did the best i could with what I had. It stopped working. I welcome the help of the steps.
Time to stop blaming the little tyke. Time to stop blaming anyone.
Time to unlearn and relearn. Time to welcome myself with open arms to a new way of Life. Time to start breathing again.
Baby Steps.
Wayne




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For me, codependency isn't always bad.  It is healthy to be loving, giving, nurturing, and to reach out to others. 

When I try to control others and make them be or do my version of "right" then it isn't a good thing.  When I enable people and do not let them do for themselves.  When I allow them to be consumers instead of contributors on a consistent basis.  When I avoid sharing my opinions and feelings out of fear.  When I twist myself emotionally to keep the peace.  When I forget the word "No".  When I live a life that is based in fear of others opinions of me. 

Then I know codependency is a problem for me.

I know where to go when this problem arises.

I know where to go to learn different behaviors to avoid these problems in the first place.

It is a slow process at times.  It is an awe inspiring process at others.  It brings peace where there used to be none.



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Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you.   ~H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. ~St. Francis of Assisi



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1. How would you define codependency?
Codependency is caring too much. When that other person's health becomes more important than your own. When you try to control that which is not in your control.

2. Do you know anybody that has significantly affected your life, somebody what you worry about and wish you could change? Who? Write several paragraphs about that person and your relationship. Later, read what you wrote. What are your feelings?
My core family - family of origin - are the people who impact me most.

Mom and Dad were both controlling but in different ways. Dad was the authoritarian, the big stick guy. Mom was probably co-dependent but ruled the house. They stuck together.

Siblings were all boys and banded together. I was the odd-duck, not an adult and not a boy.

At some point the parents started putting me in charge of the siblings whenever they were gone. When I got my driver's license I was put in charge of part of the housework, my grandmother's needs and taking care of the siblings. At some point the siblings determined that I would get grief before they did for not completing tasks, so they could manipulate me into doing those tasks by putting off doing them. That put me in a catch 22. If I did the tasks, I wouldn't get yelled at but I was angry for being put in that position. If I didn't do the tasks then I felt I had to stay on the siblings to do them or I would get yelled at for not staying on them to do their jobs. To counter this move they just left the house until it was time for the folks to come home. This pattern continued on and off until a couple of years ago when I burnt out and said no. I think I feel guilt for saying No because it is not what my parents would have wanted me to do.


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Mad


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I believe when I was born I was co dependent that day that should of been my name and I use that co dependency today as my name. My true act of co dependency took place at age of 10 mother took ill one abusive sibling at home dad worked 3 jobs . I lost all my rights to grow up as a child . I went into caregiving at the age of 10 I took care of my mom I learn to cook and clean of course not the right way but the quickest way I could so I could give more time to every one else's needs . I was did not have enought time to go to school I was home school only to be a co dependent I was taught only to do for others that won't be done for you. You are always last on all list every one else comes before you that's the catholic way . I was taught to act on command I was not giving a choice to do anything else . Got a break mom went into hospital then I'm left stuck what do I do I don't need to caretaker anymore. Abuse showed up and said hi co dependent let me help you feel better about your self . The commands became demands . Every thing was rushed no time to finish one order had to start a new demand . Cook me dinner now look what you did you ruined it smack in the face make it again . So I did while I was being hovered over when dinner was done it was not eaten it was tossed out along with the words that your useless your nothing you will never be nothing when I'm done with you . You belong in the trash like that food you just made me . Go in the corner and think how you can do better for me next time. So ms small 10 year old co dependent did as she was told. Mind you brought up catholic you obey your older ones if your parents were not around . From that day on my dependency got worst the beating left marks words of shame was drilled into my head why did mom have you . Your no good oh wait! She kept you for me that's why that's when slavery took place .. I cleaned up every mess he made and even extra just because I was female and that's my job I was told . I'm here to take care of the mans needs I'm here for every one else but myself see when ppl think co depend they see a goodie goodie and that part traveled to school with me . I had no choice there to I sat in the back of the class I would raise my hand and not be noticed I was always called hey you! No one new my name and if they did they didn't remember . I was the pretty girl who did not fit in with the others I always fit in with the kids that were abused and they had there own section to at school again I FELT BAD they were alone so I sat with them and did everything for them in return of there friendship just like me I would say just sit next to me so I don't look alone. Later these friends became better and started leaving there stuff for me to do. And I accepted it because I thought I was there friend. Beating got worst where neglect of dr visit came . We don't have money little girl you can't go to dr to get better you'll be fine . Give it a day or to. Part of co dependency WAIT the command to act. If I asked a question I had to raise my hand at home and still would not get noticed but then when the time was right for the controller to answer my question again I had to WAIT . Then I here what are you stupid you WAIT til the last min to tell me go to your room no supper for you. I'm gonna end that here because life never got easer or better. My point is the alcohol was not in my home the control was. So this is where I am a different co dependent . I was forced into it not given a choice today ppl say you act like a child little things that amuse little minds when are you going to grow up these are now words of the A husband the cycle never ended for me the physical abuse was gone but all the other abuse played part . The cheating lying the point the finger game .. My name became IT . ITS your fault I did that ITS you that made me drink ITS you that ruined our marriage what good are you why did I marry you and have dumb children with a uneducated woman . How can one change a negitive life when that's all that's been feed to her . It's hard for me to change all those - words today to see any + I'm my life . How can you work a 12 step if you never been taught to walk yet . When you have no concept on what things mean and to shameful to ask for the FEAR of hearing stupid again. I am a puzzel in the wrong box with wrong directions I can see why ppl put me last and say I'm confusion and complexed because I'm in the wrong box and I need guidance to help me walk these steps to get out of the co dependent ways . That's what co dependency means to me . Does this diffeniciant any one can Idenified with if so help me please I want to keep my life easy and simple I want to be accepted and acknowledge . And not be put on a shelf like a misfit toy

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I am proud of you for saying "NO", saying NO is the hardest part of recovery.  I have had many years of therapy for all the abuse I suffered some so traumatic I couldn't remember until a few months ago.  It made so much clear about my past and actions taken and why after I had felt I beat codependency I find myself here again.  It is a constant process and one you have to engage in daily.  I remember the first time I said no and the guilt started to eat away at me.  Finally I asked myself this question whenever I needed to say "NO".  If the other person had said NO to the same thing I did would I be mad or upset?? 9 times out of 10 I wouldn't be.  Then I asked myself how arrogant I must be to think I have the power to make people to do something?  Was I so special that I had the power to make my father drink? to make my parents fight? To make my father stop his behavior?  Has anyone been able to make me do something I absolutely didn't want to do?  I found the answers to all them to be NO.  When I was finally able to do this actively I learned the power of saying NO, unfortunately I forgot how much I had learned and how much the support of CODA had changed my life; my eating disorder and how I really see myself.  I was the happiest I had ever been, free for the first time in my life to live and not feel responsible for everyone in my life.  Codependency NO more the workbook was my first step to changing my life; and I will always be grateful that I found my way.

I just couldn't see in the chaos that had become my life: once my daughter was being abused by her biological mother, my father got diagnosed with stage 4 Lung cancer and we were prosecuting a second person who assaulted my daughter.  It was me reliving all I had gone through and I felt I had to be strong for her and my husband.  In order to function at work I had to shove everything down, I couldn't let it out at home because I needed to be there to protect my daughter and me and my husband had stopped communicating because he couldn't understand what was really going on.  It took a couple years to get full custody and me to adopt my daughter but she is wonderful and doing so well.  I am the one who needs to find myself again and how to love and take care of myself.  I can't keep shoving everything down and acting like I don't matter as long as everyone else is ok.  I need to stop isolating myself and to give me a break.  I gave up so much of myself that there is almost nothing left.  I am hoping rediscovering CODA and talking with people who understand will help me to heal and move forward.

I appreciate everyone who is sharing, and although CODA is not new to me and I have been great at helping others with it; I forgot about me.  I need to put myself first now if I want to be happy.hmm



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Codependency is attaching to someone in a needy way and oversharing after they show interest or that they care ...in a huge way. Codependency affects my ability to initiate participate or engage healthy in a healthy relationship with others.Do you know anybody that has significantly affected your life, somebody what you worry about and wish you could change? Who? Write several paragraphs about that person and your relationship. Later, read what you wrote. What are your feelings? Yes. I met her on a blog and I feel responsible for her and like must talk to her and protect her. I hoped to have a helahty relationship but I am not as healthy as I'd like. I am needy and email her too much and she did that to me at first too. I need help and I need to forget friends right now. Or tread softly and not too much contact. I feel sad, powerless, and helpless, except by dismissing myself and being alone again. I can't fix myself in a moment ..so I may do this or just limit my contact ..since little me will want to overshare due to this person is so nice and friendly. But I think I will set boundaries with her and I did already. I will stick to them and not over share.



-- Edited by laurenbacallis on Thursday 27th of February 2014 05:03:51 PM

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