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Define Co-Dependent
October 9, 2003
10:08 am
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Anonymous
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i see this term used so much here, but i still dont quite get what it is ..

would like to know - from everyone who feels they are co-dependent ..

what does co-dependent mean to you?

not just a definiton .. but, your personal thot on how it is part of your character....

just trying to understand.

thanks, `firefly

October 9, 2003
10:49 am
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mj
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Co-dependent is me thinking that I can only exist within a relationship with someone else. Independent is knowing that I can do anything in spite of others. Interdependent is my goal. Free to be who I am while in a relationship.

October 9, 2003
11:53 am
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tracylyn
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firefly~

I like to call myself a recovering codependent. Because, for the most part I'm aware now of things I do and I've made a lot of changes and progress.

I'm going to copy something here that I wrote on the "Codependent are Cowards" thread.....

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cowards?? I don't think so.

But we are afraid.....

Afraid of not being worthy of love. Afraid of being hurt. Afraid of being alone. Afraid of our own thoughts. Afraid of our own decisions. Afraid if we don't take care of people they won't need us. Afraid if we stand up for ourselves someone won't like us. Afraid of who we "really" are. Afraid of what others think of us. Afraid of what we think of ourselves. Afraid of letting someone down. Afraid of loving too much. Afraid of trusting ourselves. Afraid to trust anyone else. Afraid that others can't survive without our help. Afraid that if we dig too deep, we won't like ourselves. Afraid that we make mistakes. Afraid of the past. Afraid of the future. Afraid to take a stand. Afraid of letting go.........

If we can overcome all of that...or at least acknowledge all of that and work on it...then we/I am not a coward of any sorts.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is me in a nutshell. I used to think I had to have someone to feel whole. I know now I don't. I've filled that void with loving myself and accepting myself. I no longer search for someone else to make me happy. I am happy...on my own. I have finally realized too that owning this power has made me very picky with anyone I have interest in as a relationship.....because I am no longer searching for someone because I NEED them. I am enjoying life, and myself and will be involved with someone because I choose to....not need to.

Also, if you go to the information pages of AAC there is a lot of good descriptions of the characteristic of a codependent.

October 9, 2003
12:28 pm
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tacylyn ...very interesting. so are you saying you need another person to validate you instead of validating your own opinions or own feeling and own decisions. as if, whatever you do depends on how 'they' feel about it?

if co-dependents are afraid of those things .. how did that start? When did being afraid begin and HOW? is it something one learns, and who did they learn it from? or is it just a part of who someone is from the get go?

and what steps does one take to have more confidence and become unafraid?

October 9, 2003
1:40 pm
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Firefly~

Aren't you inquizitive this morning...or afternoon!

Codependency normally comes from a person that had a parent or a similar figure in their life that was not emotional there for them. They went thru life feeling like that were not good enough, fast enough, smart enough, etc. In my case, I had an alcoholic father, or it could be someone that lost a parent to death or abbandonment. My family didn't talk about it, my mother brushed it off and covered it up and carried on. Thru all of this....the child developes this subconsious believe that they are not worthy of love, therefore, when someone shows them love they feel so honored and will live with any abuse or neglect because..."oh my god, they love me so I have to".....We start to take care of people because we are afraid if we don't, they'll leave. We loose ourselves trying to make the other person happy....losing all identity of who we once were. We try to control the outcome of relationships and life in general by plotting and planning the next steps so that we are not left alone....all of this is done really under the surface. It's not something we are actually thinking about....it's who we've become.

These are some of the symptoms:

controlling behavior
distrust
perfectionism
avoidance of feelings
intimacy problems
caretaking behavior
hypervigilance (a heightened awareness for potential threat/danger)
physical illness related to stress

The books by Melody Beattie are really, really good if you want to dig into it deeper. Honestly, when I read Co-dependent No More....I thought I'd turn a page and see a picture of me....cause she wrote a book about me exactly. Damn....where are my royalties?????

October 9, 2003
3:28 pm
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Tracylyn and MJ .. thanks a bunch for giving me some insight into this.

im a little surprised tho, that more people have not responded. was hoping to get many views.

i see many people in this forum saying they have co-dependent issues which is why i want to understand it better...

maybe i titled it wrong? lol

i shouldda put the topic .. "calling all co-dependents" 🙂

well, im still thinking about what you said .. seeing how it plays into my life, my relationships etc ..

theres something vaguely familiar to me .. havent quite got my finger on it right now......

October 9, 2003
4:20 pm
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unhappy camper
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Wow....this is an amazing thread.

I'm printing it and taking it to my group session tonight not showing anyone names or link....I'll just read from it.

Thanks so much mj & traclyn!!!
🙂

October 11, 2003
1:11 am
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Question for ya....is denial a normal feeling of co-dependency? What i mean is my therapist recommended me to buy the book by M. Beattie. I've read the home page of this site and see things that "hit home" with me. However, i really don't feel i am a controlling person.

I've also read that it comes from your upbringing. I think i had a pretty normal childhood. I was in a rocky marriage where i lost a lot of self esteem. I was constantly told i was no good or not good enough. Could this be where my co-dependency originated from?

LOL...help! I'm very new to this : )

October 11, 2003
8:35 am
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mj
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Hi Maggie,
When I first got into counseling, I thought my childhood was normal too.
I mean, what do you have to compare it with when it is all you have ever known. It is normal because thats normal life.

I don't think denial is necessary to be a codependent and it is possible that you had a healthy nuturing childhood and picked an unhealthy partner to marry.

I don't think I am controlling either but then when my husband points incidences out, it makes me think about it more.

You have raised some interesting questions. Welcome..and keep posting.

October 11, 2003
4:51 pm
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firefly

For me, codependent has meant that I seek the approval of others for my decisions, opinions, beliefs, and actions because I don't trust myself or believe that I am capable of thinking and doing what is right and good.

It has meant a belief system that centers on the notion that I suffer a great deal and there is no point in others suffering as well, so I can shoulder their burdens and cry for them because, after all, that's all I would do on the inside anyways. Being able to ease the suffering of others gave purpose to mine. I believed that the way to do this was to shoulder the pain for others, to take it away for them. I was not capable of helping others to overcome their trials, because I had never overcome mine.

I wanted to bring joy and happiness to others. If this meant at my own expense, then all the better, because I didn't deserve happiness and joy. I was a bad and undeserving woman. I needed to make up for all the bad things I had done or said or felt. I had some kind of fault in just about any pain or suffering that I became knowledgeable about.

Controlling: yes. But not in the negative way that most people think of. For example I wanted my husband to be safe when he drank and I wanted his company and he was scary when he drank if his friends weren't around. I was always pregnant or nursing and so wouldn't drink or go out. So I would by lots of beer, his favorite whiskey and invite his friends over and fire up the hot tub and make a good dinner for them all and they would have a wonderful time. And I got to hear about how lucky my husband was to have such a wodnerful wife as myself. And this felt good to me. I felt needed and valued. My husband could drink safely and not get mean. I wasn't left alone with the babies wodnering if he was in jail or dead or alive till all hours of the night. And I enjoyed his friends company as well. So this is an example of controlling, but not in a mean way. It's manipulating a situation and I was GOOD at doing things like this.

I could go on and on about situations. For me, issues had to be dealt with and faced and a different person emerged in doing that. It took a few years and I still work on issues, especially deep-seeded guilt. I had to accept that I had been a victim, that I had no control over what had happened to me, that the perpetrator was guilty and all the blame was on him. This was a hard and lengthy process. But well worth it.

Becoming aware of what was causing me to enable, make poor choices, etc., opened many doors. The power to resist codependent behavior does in fact lie within ourselves, but for me, tapping into that resource took years of therapy. Haven't yet conquered the codependent thinking though- it's something I struggle with every day it seems.

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October 12, 2003
12:33 pm
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Oh, I need to add. I don't know if I was/am co-dependent or not. I had assumed I was on my own as it apears partners of alcoholics are- learned that an an alnon meeting and that's where I started working on co-dependency. It was HARD to stop enabling his drinking because then I didn't have any control over whether or not he got mean, and boy did he get mean sometimes. For me, changing was a determination thing. It seemed to me that the people at alanon came there to "cope" with codependency issues. I wanted to eradicate them from my existence. Not sure that's possible.

Other issues can cloud things up as they are usually also present, such as battered women's syndrome, rape trauma syndrome, PTSD, low self esteem. It's hard to tell where one ends and another begins, or if one is indeed present at all. Symptoms overlap.

I'm curious about that codependent no more book. Can somebody kind of sum up the main points? I'd go buy it and read it, but I'm swamped with my own work, classes, and kids right now and need to take care of these things at the present.

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