Codependency can occur in any type of relationship, including family, work, friendship, and also romantic, peer or community relationships.
Codependency may also be characterized by denial, low self-esteem, excessive compliance, or control patterns.
The Five Core Symptoms of Codependency
1. Neglecting your own needs
2. No or Few Boundaries
3. Owning your own reality
4. Low Self Esteem
5. Black and White Thinking
1. Neglecting Our Own Needs and Wants. All people have needs, children as well as adults.A child must have his or her needs met initially by his or her major caregiver, or parent. When this happens children are taught how to take care of each need they have when they become adults.
Codependents have had confusing messages as children and not have had their needs and wants met appropriately by their caregivers or parents. Their needs were not met, perhaps ignored or denied.
A codependent’s needs are often connected to a feeling of shame or low self-esteem when having a need or want. Sometimes the need or want has a meaning to them of being terribly selfish.
This shame likely originated at multiple times when, as children,they were neglected by a caregiver or parent. An example of such abuse is in scolding the child for having a need or want. Even though the issue is forgotten, the triggered shame flares again and again. Repetitive abuse develops a core of shame and worthlessness in a child and low self-esteem and trusting one’s own feelings as an adult.
2. Difficulty Setting or Respecting Boundaries. An external boundary is about our distance to other people and being in the space of others and others are in our space. An internal boundary protects our thinking, feeling, and keeps our behavior functional. Some people call internal boundaries walls.
A person who has no boundaries cannot be aware or sensitive to the boundaries of others. Codependents demonstrate the boundaries that their parents had. If the parent’s boundaries were nonexistent, the children usually do not develop any boundaries.
3. Owning Our Own Reality. Children, who come from dysfunctional families where they are ignored, attacked, or abandoned for their reality, learn that it is not appropriate or safe to express their reality. When these children grow up, they have difficulty as adults experiencing and owning their own reality since it was denied as children. Thus, these adult codependents may not even recognize their own needs and wants. They have been taught to be aware and meet the needs and wants of others.
4. Low self esteem. Codependents usually experience difficulty with self-esteem and in one of two different extremes. Either an extreme low self-esteem or the extremes of feeling superior to others, (you think you are set apart and superior to other people).
A codependent often looks towards other to meet their needs. Their needs are often connected to a feeling of shame or low self-esteem when having a need or want. Sometimes the need or want has a meaning to them of being terribly selfish.
An example of such abuse is scolding the child for having a need or want. Even though the issue is forgotten, the triggered shame flares again and again. Repetitive abuse develops a core of shame and worthlessness in a child and low self-esteem as an adult.
5. Black and White Thinking. Not knowing how to be moderate is a visible symptom of codependency. Codependents think in terms of black and white, good or bad, all or nothing.
Codependency is addiction to a relationship. A codependent tries so hard to “fix” or “save” someone else that his/her own life is left in turmoil. No one can control anyone else-----other people’s troubles are mostly due to patterns only they can change so trying to change those leads to one painful disappointment after another!
There are reasons we’re drawn to new relationships in which we try harder to solve our partner’s problems than they do. These patterns are often from having to have grown up with parents or others adults who suffered from alcoholism, other drug addiction, or other addictive disorders or family dysfunction and may echo our childhood relationships with those adults.
Moving from little or no esteem to esteeming ourselves in a healthy ways, feels unfamiliar, for we are used to telling ourselves that we are being arrogant, or when we set boundaries that we are being distant. Put more energy into loving yourself than you do into trying to love others. Learning how to love yourself is at the heart of learning how to love others in a healthy way.
Your feelings are ok, your reaction to them may not be.
Learn to make this distinction. Healthy systems of support will validate your feelings and will offer you guidance on how to constructively deal with your feelings.
Nobody recovers perfectly! Human beings sometimes make mistakes and have relapses. Healthy systems of support allow for mistakes and encourage you to embrace your imperfections in order to learn what you need to learn!
Remember, in the face of all this discomfort that:
You are responsible to you and your own well-being first,and others second!
This will be against your past learning and training, but it is important to know that you can care about others without having to take care of them!
You may need to also feel the anxiety as you make these changes. You may need to – just stand the anxiety – as everybody around you is reacting.
Facing Codependency - Pia Melody