Have you ever found yourself lost in a relationship? Asking yourself who you are? Wondering how you ended up being treated this way?
Have you ever found yourself saying yes all the time? Apologising for everything? And constantly making excuses for someone’s behaviour?
If these questions resonate with you, then we are talking about co-dependency.
Perhaps you are still in a co-dependent relationship, or maybe you are currently trying to break away from one. Either way it is an incredibly dark and painful place to be in. You can end up questioning your own mind and decision making, while feeling that you constantly need approval. Your identity becomes so wrapped up in making another person happy that you forget that you have needs.
Co dependent relationships are dysfunctional and often one person supports or enables another person’s addiction. They could also tolerate another person’s poor mental health, immaturity or irresponsibility to a very unhealthy level.
Alcohol and drug addiction are the most common, but addiction can also apply to work, food, exercise or sex for example. When living in a co dependent relationship life can be extremely draining, isolating and soul destroying.
Someone who is codependent will put up with so much more than anyone else. They will allow someone to treat them in a way that they never thought they would, and they can end up feeling totally degraded, dis respected and hurt. It can be a very hard cycle to break, and often people find it so hard to break away from codependent relationships, that they end up staying unhappy for a very long time.
Being codependent means that you will always put another person’s needs before your own. You won’t know how to ask for what it is that you need – and you will always find yourself apologising for anything and everything. Scared to upset that person or worried about hurting or disappointing them.
It could be something as simple as choosing what you want to eat for dinner one evening, or deciding what film to watch. Or it could be more complex in terms of your career, family, friends or even children.
Living with an addict can be hell. That person loses and immerses themselves totally in something else. They don’t see you or hear you, and they don’t know how to relate to you. They prioritise something over you at literally any cost. As a result you are left feeling not good enough, not attractive enough, not worth being loved etc. And as a result the codependent cycle gets worse, as you can find yourself desperately trying to make that person happy in any way you can.
The reality is – that will never happen. Unless a person wants to change, or values themselves enough to make an effort, then they won’t take the time to improve their addiction. And unless they value you and the relationship enough then they won’t take the time or effort to nurture what’s right in front of them.
The sad thing is that person will end up losing everything and will then blame the codependent partner for the relationship break down. It is as this point that being codependent can be even more damaging. Because everything in you will scream to you about going back, making up for your mistakes, fear of failure, desire to make it better, fear of the unknown, and of what everyone else thinks etc. It is at this crucial moment that you need to remember the following –
- You deserve to be loved
- You deserve to be respected
- You are worth more than this
- You have needs and they do deserve to be met
- True love is about respect and honesty
- People don’t change unless they truly admit that they have a problem
- There is another life waiting for you
- If you work on your own self esteem then you will feel better about who you are
- Remember to value and respect yourself
- Remember that you deserve to be happy
- Remember to never let anyone treat you like this again
- Believe in yourself and the rest will follow
People become codependent for all kinds of reasons. Often their self-esteem and self-worth is very low. So they spend their life trying to please others. That is where therapy can help. It takes time to learn to truly love you and to allow yourself to be truly loved. But healing is possible.
Often people that have experienced things like abuse or eating disorders are very codependent. This is because they have never known how to ask for what it is that they need. So everything comes about external validation and pleasing others. Again therapy can really help with this.
As can working on yourself.
No matter how hard or painful it is, never give up, and never go back to something that hurt you to the point where you no longer knew who you were.