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not sure if I am codependent
February 19, 2003
5:32 pm
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Anonymous
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I went to a counselor a few months ago and she told me to check out a couple of books about codependency, I read a couple of pages and thought this isn't me. I look back and think maybe it is, I grew up in a home where both parents were alcoholics and drug addicts and am now raising my brothers children because he lost them because if his own drug abuse. I get angry at them(parents and my brother) often because this is hard on me. I get absolutely no help from my parents at all with the children and i have three of my own and my nieces, but i never say anything. I want them to be proud of me but I feel as if I am looked down upon because I don't know how hard it is to be a drug addict, (direct quote from mom). Why do I want to please them so much they don't do anything for me but cause me anger and pain! Please help!

February 20, 2003
1:04 pm
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Hi. I noticed no one had answered you, so I'll take a stab at this.

Being codependant is a label for a whole range of behaviors. Let's skip the label name right now and look at some behaviors that you might exhibit.

You grew up with problem parents. You are used to being with addicted people, who can be self-centered, self-absorbed and neglectful. You grow up being neglected, and think that is the way that everyone lives.

Many people who grow up in a dysfunctional household become super responsible people. Not only for themselves, but for the actions and emotions of others as well. Especially if they had to take care of the parents and siblings. And, many of these super responsible people concentrate on other people's wants and needs and ignore their own. They learn to tune out their own desires by 'sacrificing' and keeping busy with someone else's issues. The focus is rarely turned inward. That way, you don't have problems. Not seen, not recognized - no problems exist!

But in reality, you may be choking down years of resentment and anger. Many do not know how to say no. You can become known as the 'family counselor' to your siblings, spouses and children. But no one even thinks you need their help. So you keep on giving and giving, while those around you keep on taking and taking. This is how enabling behavior initially starts. Then, as this bad habit grows, you actually can create your own monster(s). They are used to your high level of giving and come to expect it. And 'they', in turn, become more lazy and demand that level of giving.

All in all, this can create very bad relationships for all concerned because you as a 'codependant' do not do a very good job of:

- figuring out what you want (not what other's want)
- stating what your boundaries are (letting everyone have you as their doormat)
- expressing your 'hidden', true self, which may not be the sweet demure person everyone thinks you are

Of course, I am not a good writer. There are several books out there worth reading (Melody Beattie's 'Codependant No More'). But, I also had a problem seeing myself with some of these tendencies.

I hope this helps you. We also have a Codependant section of the bulletin board which has some good archive reading.

Jenny

February 20, 2003
3:39 pm
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It is good that you are seeing that there may be something different out there than the reality that is in your family. You have put up with a lot for a long time. It is your turn to now take care of yourself. Do the reading that your counselor suggested and become knowledgable on this subject. You may not see yourself in every checklist but as you are finding out there has to be more to life than pleasing your parents and family. There has to come a time where you put yourself first. I think that realizing that you want something different is a big first step.

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