Have you ever wondered about the origin of all of your "destructive" codependent behaviors? Could it be that you were just born that way? Maybe there is a genetic predisposition toward crazy-making behavior and you were just unlucky enough to inherit it.
I don't think so. I think it is more likely that you were born just fine, with the same reasonable probability of sane adult relationships as the rest of us. Something must have happened to you sometime between the day of your birth and the day of your first date. Hmm... what could that have been? Maybe you grew up in a home where the grownups were not all that grown up, and you needed to learn how to cope with emotional upheaval.
It Makes Sense To Be Codependent
- If you came to believe that your misbehavior was what caused your dad to drink too much, then it made sense to feel overly responsible for everything around you.
- Similarly, if you got in trouble for being messy, it made sense to become obsessive in order to prevent being yelled at.
- If every time you expressed a feeling, you were told you were wrong for feeling that way, it made sense to just stop having feelings.
- If you ever expressed a need or even a preference for something, it was probably ignored as unimportant or worse, you were made to feel wrong, it made sense to just stop having needs, let alone, expressing them.
- If you grew up in chaos, constantly experiencing bizarre behavior, it made sense to learn how to adjust to anything and then not ever really learn what normal is.
- If you felt like your world was unpredictable and out of control, it made sense to become super controlling of yourself and everything around you.
- If people yelled alot in your home, with lots of arguing and verbal threats, it made sense for you to avoid conflict at all cost.
- If you never had your world validated by anyone else, it made sense to stop trusting your own reality and then defer to everyone else.
You Were Brilliant!
I'll bet it never occured to you to think of yourself as brilliant. You came up with all of those creative ways to take care of yourself, to protect your sense of sanity, emotional safety and self worth. You survived that experience. Sure, you came out of it a little battered and bruised, but you deserve to be congratulated for all your strategic reactions that brought you to today. Congratulations!
The Bad News is...Codependency
The bad news is that what was once adaptive in the war zone is now maladaptive during peace time. All of those defensive strategies that protected you while under attack are now destructive traits that prevent you from enjoying intimate relationships. You are so well defended, people can't get close to you. You are so reactive, it is difficult for you to respond. You are "loaded for bear" in relationships when all you will probably ever run into is a raccoon. Your solutions from the past are now the problems in the present.
Let's End With the Good News...
The good news is that you can reframe your experience and recognize that these problematic codependent tendencies you have today originated in some pretty brilliant maneuvering. You are not just "an unhealthy person with alot of work to do." Before you go trying to stop being codependent, give your inner child a hug and a congratulatory "high five" for getting you here today. You can remind yourself that that was then and this is now. You can heal your emotional pain and relax those automatic reactions into thoughtful responses. You can grieve the losses, understand all the dynamics, forgive what needs to be forgiven, and finally enjoy the freedom to make a different choice.
Now, say it with me, "I'm Codependent, and damn proud of it!"
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