The term “codependency” has been around for decades. It is a learned emotional and behavioral condition. It was originally used to describe some spouses of alcoholics. However, with a present increase in substance abuse it has been found that the characteristics of codependency are much more prevalent than originally imagined. For example, if you were raised in a dysfunctional family or had a chronically ill parent, you may also be codependent.
So how can you tell if you are codependent?
Is your spouse or significant other drinking too much and/or using drugs? Do you make excuses for them? If yes, it may be a symptom of codependency.
Do you define yourself as a “people pleaser?” Does saying, “no” to someone produce acute anxiety? Are you sacrificing your own needs and putting things on hold for others? If yes, it may be a symptom of codependency.
Are you a “chronic caregiver?” Wanting to care for individuals is natural. It comes out of feeling empathy and sympathy for others. However, placing others before yourself, or trying to “fix” the other person is a sign you may be codependent.
Do you feel you have to control everything? Certainly no one wants to live in chaos or uncertainty, but codependents need to control those close to them. They need others to behave in a certain way to “feel okay.” Have others told you that you are bossy or controlling? If yes, it may be a symptom of codependency.
Codependents need other people to like them to feel okay about themselves. They have difficulty ending a relationship even though they know the relationship is bad for them, because they can’t stand to be alone. Codependents will remain in a highly painful or abusive relationship because of their fear of being alone.
Do you have poor boundaries? Codependents have nebulous or blurry boundaries. Boundaries are imaginary lines between you and others, signifying what you will or won’t tolerate.
Do you have problems with reactivity? A codependent will absorb others’ words about them and believe what is said or become defensive. As a codependent, you absorb words, because there is no boundary. If you have intact boundaries you recognize words are not a reflection of you or your self-worth.
Have you ever experienced a relationship with someone who relies on you to meet all of their needs? If yes, it may be a symptom of codependency.
Do you see yourself in one or more of the scenarios above?
If yes, you may be codependent. There is help for you and recovery for codependency. These symptoms don’t occur over a short period of time. They are habits which are developed over time and are difficult to change on your own.
Codependency is very common. To fully understand the dynamics of a relationship in which you suspect codependency, you may need a therapist or mental health counselor to assist you. You may also join a 12- step program, such as codependents anonymous.
Please seek assistance! Codependent symptoms are reversible!
References and resources:
Beattie, Melody, Codependent no more: how to stop controlling others and start caring for yourself: Minnesota, Hazelden foundation, (1986).