Codependency is one of those words that gets tossed out a lot in different conversations. Understanding what codependency is and how serious it can be in an individual’s life is essential. If you feel you may have codependency issues, seek treatment for yourself before the behaviors escalate to something serious.
Codependency includes both an emotional as well as a behavioral component. It is learned, most often from the family, and it really becomes the inability to have a healthy, satisfying relationship where both partners are truly equal and mutually committed to each other.
The roots of codependency often go back to families where parents were codependent, one or both parents have addiction problems, one or both parents have significant and untreated mental health disorders. It can also occur in families where children cared for parents with chronic health conditions.
These families not only had these issues, but they were ignored within the family. They didn’t seek treatment; rather everyone just accommodated for the individual to the exclusion of their own life. They retreated into a relationship where there were limited emotions, limited love and where the addicted or ill individual was the focus of the entire family.
After years of denying their own needs, emotions and desires for a different life, the codependent person develops specific behaviors. They will seek out people to rescue, pouring all their attention, love, and energy into that individual. It often becomes too much, but they cannot modify or change the behavior, and end up pushing the person away.
Often codependent people will:
- Constantly take on more than they can do
- Refuse to end a relationship, even if unhealthy or abusive
- Tend to look for people to rescue such as an alcoholic, drug addict or the “bad” boy or girl
- Have low self-esteem
- Demonstrate an inability to trust
- Experience boundary problems with friends and relationships
Remember, codependency is a learned behavior. With counselling, more effective relationship patterns and coping strategies can be developed. Breaking the codependent cycle and allowing the individual to change from negative and harmful to positive interactions.