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Post Info TOPIC: Book Study: Codependent No More - Chapter 9


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Book Study: Codependent No More - Chapter 9
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Chapter 9 - Undepedenence

"What is it about me?" she asked.
"Do I need a dead body laying in my bed in order to feel good about myself?" - Alice B., a codependent who has been married to two alcoholics.

The author starts this chapter by giving three statements from different woman involved with troubled men.  You can see the similarities in each, which is "I'm not happy living with this person, but I don't think I can live without him (or her)."  It echoes their fear of being alone and facing themselves, being responsible for themselves. 

Most of us, regardless if we are responsible or needy, have this frightened inner child that is desperate to be loved and cared for.  It seems our entire lives we have been abandoned, abused, and neglected and we just want someone to finally be there for us.  We want someone to rescue us from this dark and lonely place.  Once we find someone we become dependent on them.  It can be anyone, a spouse, family member, friend, or co-worker.  We become dependent on their approval, love, acceptance, and simply their presence in our lives.  This goes beyond the normal, healthy want and need to have people in our lives.  We NEED to have these people and become controlled by it.

Sometimes we need people too much and depend on them for our happiness.  They may be there giving us what we need but we don't see it.  We may chose troubled people who abuse us and we put up with it because we don't feel we deserve any better.  "Sometimes, no human being could be there for us the way we need them to be - to absorb us, care for us, and make us feel good, complete, and safe."  Even in relationships that could succeed our inability to detach can smother the other person and drive them away.

Sometimes the pain gets bad enough that we start to plan our escape and start taking care of ourselves.  Others escape through destructive behaviors such as alcohol, drugs or may even go so far as to contemplate suicide. 

For many of us these behaviors were caused by not getting the love and attention we needed as children.  We seek this love and attention from the same type of people who withheld it from us, repeating the cycle.  Perhaps we were never taught the skills to trust ourselves, or perhaps we were told it was our job to care for others.  We may have not displayed any of these behaviors until we got into an adult relationship with someone that was troubled and we developed survival skills to take care of ourselves while they stripped away our emotional security.

The good news is we can take care of ourselves.

Here are some suggestions the author makes:

1.  Finish up business from our childhoods, as best as we can.

2.  Nurture and cherish that frightened, vulnerable, needy child inside us.

3.  Stop looking for happiness in other people.

4.  We can learn to depend on ourselves.

5.  We can depend on God, too.

6.  Strive for undependence.

Activity

1.  Examine the following characteristics, and decide if you are in a dependent (addicted) or healthy (love) relationship:

Love (Open System)

Addiction (Closed System)

Room to grow, expand; desire for other to grow.

Dependent, based on security and comfort; use intensity of need and infatuation as proof of love (may really be fear, insecurity, loniness)

Separate interests; other friends; maintain other meaningful relationships.Total involvement; limited social life; neglect old friends, interests.
Encouragement of each other's expanding; secure in own worth.Preoccupation with other's behavior; dependent on other's approval for own identity and self-worth.
Trust; openness.Jealousy, possessiveness, fears competition, "protects supply"
Mutual integrity preserved.One partner's needs suspended for the other's; self-deprivation.
Room for exploration of feelings in and of relationship.Reassurance through repeated, ritualized activity.
Ability to enjoy being alone.Intolerance - unable to endure separations (even in conflict); hang on even tighter.  Undergo withdrawal - loss of appetite, restless, lethargic, disoriented agony.
Breakups 
Accept breakup without feeling a los of own adequacy and self-worthFeel inadequate, worthless, often one-sided decision.
Wants best for partner, though apart; can become friends.Violent ending - often hate other; try to inflict pain; manipulation to get other back.
One-Sided Addiction 
 Denial, fantasy; overestimation of other's commitment.
 Seeks solutions outside self - drugs, alcohol, new lover, change of situation.




-- Edited by willing on Tuesday 27th of September 2011 01:43:57 PM

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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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I absolutely love this list.  It shows me clearly where I was in my troubled relationship. 



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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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This is very useful.  Especially the lists!   I often find myself wondering what life would be like if I was back with my ex-boyfriend, then I realize it wouldn't work;  we do run into each other often enough that I know he's just as unhappy without me as he was with me.  I am realizing day by day that I can't be with an unhappy person!  



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It takes a lot of energy to combat the effects of someone who is unhappy, whines, moans and complains everyday.

Life is too short and there is way too much fun to be had.  I find I am on overdrive if I don't have someone dragging me down.  When that weight is there is like walking around in a gray, soggy fog.  Blah!



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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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So this has been rattling around in my noodle since I posted the 9th Chapter.  It is strange, because when I started working on my codependent issues my list was LONG.  The behaviors I needed to change to achieve some sanity in my life was substantial.  But I did the work, I am STILL doing the work.  Getting over the guilt and shame I carried, gaining confidence, sharing my feelings ...  In the next relationship I did not withdraw from my friends and family.  I did not ride the roller coaster of my partner's emotions.  I did not give up my power and I communicated how I was feeling and set boundaries.  Well, I communicated about how I was feeling until the end when I just ran out of steam.

This time I found myself riding the codependent roller coaster as an enabler.  What a switch!  It was so insidious especially when you have been a codependent your whole life, I guess it still seemed natural.  You would think with all the work I had done on myself I would have seen these things clear as day and seen the upcoming demise of the relationship.  But no .... just keep swimming....

This is the portion of the chapter the perfectly describes where I was:

"Emotional dependency and feeling stuck can also cause problems in salvageable relationships.  If we are in a relationship that is still good, we may be too insecure to detach and start taking care of ourselves.  We may stifle ourselves and smother or drive away the other person.  That much need becomes obvious to other people.  It can be sensed, felt.


Ultimately, too much dependency on a person can kill love.  Relationship based on emotional insecurity and need, rather than on love, can become self-destructive.  They don't work.  Too much need drives people away and smothers love.  It scares people away.  It attracts the wrong kind of people.  And our real needs don't get met.  Our real needs become greater and so does our despair.  We center our lives around this person, trying to protect our source of security and happiness.  We forfeit our lives to do this.  And we become angry at this person.  We are being control by him or her.  We are dependent on that person.  We ultimately become angry and resentful at what we are dependent on and controlled by, because we have given our personal power and rights to that person."

I read that and said out loud "Yes, THAT's IT!!!!"

I have been on both sides of the fence on this one and it is simply exhausting no matter where you stand.  This time, as the recipient of this behavior trying desperately to hold on to some normalcy, I was completely drained and felt absolute responsibility for this other person's feelings, well-being, and happiness.  And they made no bones about telling me that's exactly what I was responsible for.  They asked for more, I would give more.  It was never enough.  In the end they ran away screaming that I had ruined them.  The minute they took their claws out of me, started looking around and breathing their own air, they realized they had friends out there - a life - things of their own and life became better for them.  Instantly.  It definitely became better for me.  The author is right ... it kills love.  I can stand up and be a cheerleader for a while, promote them to have their own interests, push them in the right direction, you can do this - yes you can! But I can't change them, that is their job, and no matter how much I gave it was never enough.  Having my own life, my own interests is stealing from them.  Giving my energy to my family, my job was depriving them of my time and attention and I was abandoning them.

I don't write this pointing fingers at other codepedents.  I have been in all the codie shoes and am sure I will try on a few more sizes as time goes by.  I am recovering.  I am changing.  These things can exist for BOTH in the relationship, that is how it was with me last time.  Two codependents in a feeding frenzie off of each other.  Looks like what I described above but you switch off days or hours as it may be.

What this was for me was validation of how I felt.  Completely drained with no answers.  I don't know how many times I said "Get a job, get a life and start enjoying yourself and perhaps my every move won't matter so much to you."  If nothing changes, nothing changes ...

Love, passion, sharing, hearts, flowers, fun, doing special things to make someone smile, sharing wonderful experiences ... on and on and on .... I am ALL FOR IT.

Being responsible for someone's core serenity, sanity, happiness.  Way too much responsibility for me.  I am not going to carry the guilt of that with me, nor do I owe an amends.  It is just too much.  That is OK.  It is what it is.  You learn the lesson and move on, but I am not going to let my little codie self think that there was any solution to this other than getting out.  I could not 'fix' this person or make them change.  If they were willing to work on it, I would have been in 100%.   I didn't communicate much when I had reached complete desiccation, so they left pointing fingers (and I did plenty myself as well) letting God do for me what I couldn't do for myself.  It was ugly but another wonderful lesson.  The fantastic thing is that I can walk away with compassion.  I have been this person.  I get it.  But I also understand there is nothing I can do, this is only something they can resolve themselves.  It takes work and now I have more work to do too.  The fact that I ended up here shows me that my list is ongoing and changing.  I love rolling up my sleeves though...so here we go!



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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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Willing, thank you so much for posting this. I can see my codependency in the lists, and also some of my recovery, which has surprised me. Sometimes it's hard to see recovery when you're workng so hard to have it. Thank you for sharing so honestly on your own experiences. Freya.

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PC


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I am new to this Miracles in progress site, and this study on "Codependence No More" I have read the book a long time ago and knew that I was a codependent, I now realize I am also a Child of an Alcoholic. So I am so grateful for all this study. It is also wonderful to study each chapter and hear your comments and ESH. Reading is great, but the added bonus is getting others ideas and seeing it in a different light. She talks about undependence, it is certainly needed when we need to recover. But I think the most healthy is interdependence and that takes 2 or more HEALTHY people who know themselves and are recovering.

I got on the site of the Karpman Triangle and he has alot of others triangles too, but the major one that codependents use is victim - rescurer or enabler - and prosecutor. That is a crazy game an no one wins in it. They go back and forth endlessly until someone stops it, by doing something different!

I read somewhere that codependents always end up the same place, suffering behaviors. Always, it is enevitable because insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results, but they will not get them, they will get what they always got! Until they change the patterns. Unfortunately I learned this from experience. I have come to that place of the greatest teacher, pain, and it is a great teacher......But working on codependence no - no - no - more!

Thanks for being here and I am grateful to be here with you all.

PC


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Pat Champion


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The list must be for a much younger person in a much bigger city. I simply cannot find better people where I live, and I must work on myself now. Maybe some better people will come out of hiding after I do some more work on myself.

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Hello PC!  So glad you found us.  Recovery and self-discovery are amazing, so glad you are on the path with us.  We look forward to hearing about your journey!  It was wonderful to see this post again, it is a great list. 

Bumble Dunny your statement is exactly what I experienced.  I remember early on someone told me "What do you want from a partner?" ... then you list all the wonderful traits you want, honestly, loyalty etc ... then they say "Now go out and become that."  Meaning, become healthy and you attract healthy.  This weekend I had a group of 3 couples over to the house, all absolutely wonderful people, and I couldn't help but stop for a moment and look at the difference in the people I associate with now.  I always thought I was never good enough for healthy people, I was "less than" them ... life was supposed to be full of drama and negativity, drowning in constant problems and toxic relationships.  Now my friends are all emotionally free and enjoy having conversations about personal growth.



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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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I am new to this site. I have been away from working the codependents steps for far too long. It is good to be back and somewhere I can express my feelings.



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Azawami Odkibuwa


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Hello Zode,

Welcome!  So glad you found us.  Please feel free to share, we are here to listen and we understand.  You are not alone.

 

Willing



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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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This is in reference to what Willing said "The author is right ... it kills love. I can stand up and be a cheerleader for a while, promote them to have their own interests, push them in the right direction, you can do this - yes you can! But I can't change them, that is their job, and no matter how much I gave it was never enough. Having my own life, my own interests is stealing from them. Giving my energy to my family, my job was depriving them of my time and attention and I was abandoning them..."

This is resonating with me because I know I'm in such a position, only I'm the one who is so codependent on someone that I am draining her energy, her life, and driving her away. She is a dear friend who has taken me in as family, she is very aware that I'm codependent on her, that I'm trying to recover, but I'm still struggling so much with this. I'm terrified that I'll drive her away, and I can at least recognize what I'm doing, but I'm still unsure of what specifically I need to do in order to begin mending the relationship. "Detach," is so vague that I feel uncertain how to apply it. Any insight would be appreciated!!

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@ape130

Thanks for your posting and having the insight that detaching a bit might help your dear friend who has taken you in.  One way to keep from overwhelming someone with codependence is to nurture good relationships with everyone else in your life besides her. 

A wonderful free resource is www.meetup.com.  There you can find folks near who share your interests.  It's easy to drop in on all kinds of get togethers, even on short notice.  Having a larger number of people to meet your social needs helps in keeping one person from occupying all your time and thoughts.  Also some activities away from your good friend gives you more interesting things to talk about when you do get together.  Anyway, I've found meetup to be a great resource to broaden my circle of friends and acquaintances and jump in on any sort of activity easily.

I hope you're enjoying your spring!

Best wishes,

 

- Janeen in Seattle



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Janeen in Seattle

 



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@Zode

Welcome to the Codependency recovery forum!  I hope you are able to jump into the discussion again soon.

 

Warm wishes,

- Janeen in Seattle



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Janeen in Seattle

 

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