For a long time, I struggled to differentiate between love and codependency. Believing that love meant prioritizing someone's needs over my own, I realized the distinction was crucial. Love is indeed selfless, especially in parenting. Yet, when we constantly prioritize others over ourselves in adult relationships, we might be diving into codependency's depths.
Codependency is learned behavior, often influenced by our parents' actions during childhood. If boundaries were absent, martyrdom was a norm, and saying 'no' seemed impossible for our parents, these behaviors likely followed us into adulthood. Growing up with emotionally distant parents raises the risk of becoming codependent. As adults, we may end up in relationships with emotionally unavailable partners, hoping to change them. The subconscious belief that our love will transform them is dangerous, especially when combined with abusive behavior.
Codependency can lead to unhealthy habits. Seeking external fixes, we form relationships that need 'fixing.' A person with codependent tendencies might find themselves with an addicted partner, who's emotionally distant due to substance abuse.
If you suspect codependency in your relationship, start by examining yourself.
- Loving those you can rescue.
- Feeling responsible for others' actions.
- Over-contributing to keep peace.
- Fearing abandonment.
- Prioritizing your partner's happiness.
- Seeking approval to validate yourself.
- Struggling with change.
- Doubting decisions.
- Reluctant to trust.
- Letting others' emotions control you.
Codependency and Addiction
Codependent relationships might inadvertently enable a partner's addiction. In trying to 'help,' you can discourage them from seeking necessary treatment.
- Justifying substance use due to stress.
- Making excuses for their behavior.
- Enabling dependence on substances.
- Taking on additional responsibilities.
- Repairing relationships damaged by their addiction.
- Lending money for debts from substance abuse.
Addiction clouds judgement, making it harder to realize help is needed. Preventing consequences only delays acknowledgment of the problem.
Breaking Free from Codependency
The silver lining is that codependency can be unlearned. Prioritize self-healing before trying to heal the relationship.
- Honest communication.
- Positivity over negativity.
- Not taking things personally.
- Embrace 'me time.'
- Seek counseling.
- Peer support.
- Establish boundaries.
Self-Care Is Not Selfish
Overcoming codependency doesn't mean being selfish. Healthy relationships involve individuals with unique identities. Balancing self-care and supporting your loved one's recovery journey is essential. Prioritize mental health to effectively support their treatment.
Witnessing a loved one's struggle with addiction is heart-wrenching, yet supporting their recovery requires addressing your well-being too. As you heal, you contribute to a stronger, healthier partnership.