Although many might suggest that codependency is a curse, I prefer to believe that it is - at least in part - a gift. There are many wonderful pay-offs for individuals who receive from the codependent - gifts of undivided attention, one's needs pre-empted and ministered to, one's thinking done for one... that kinda thing. Oh wait... erm... what was that last one? Oh yes... 'one's thinking done for one'.... hmm.
"Help..." someone once said, "..is the sunny side of control" and this would appear to lie at the very heart of the problem with codependence - and let's face it, there's a lot of heart in it. The more the codependent feels out of control, the greater she attempts to regain some control, some firm-footing... and the only sure foothold she seems to find is when her feet are planted firmly in someone else's business. "They need to be taken care of... I know what's best for them... I can fix their problems... if only they'd listen to me, their life would be so much better...". She is unable to stay in her own business or 'fix' her own problems - that's way too painful... and she's undeserving of all that attention. Any attention she might give to herself means less time given to others and well, quite frankly, she's not worth that because... she's not good enough.
All this giving and over-caring and the codependent often cannot see that they're actually taking.... Taking away an individual's right to make his/her own decisions, meet their own needs and yes... do their own thinking. When the gift of giving is given to oneself, the rewards are indeed bountiful. And what the actively addicted codependent doesn't realise is that she has more to offer those around her when she begins to meet her own needs and allow others to take responsibility for meeting their own needs too.
So if help really is the sunny side of control... Does it follow then that with self-help begins self-control...? Getting a handle on those chaotic feelings and behaviours and letting go of feeling solely responsible for others' well-being... Wow... I have a feeling this could be a greater gift indeed...
How can we truly love another when we don't love ourselves first and foremost?
We seem to take it for granted that the word "love" is understood to mean the same thing for all people. But what if you've been brought up in a chaotic household? What if "love" had conditions attached to it? "If you behave in this way, then you are worthy of my love...". Those beliefs often go unquestioned right into adulthood and so the way we relate to others will invariably have some aspect of this to it. It could be that we're drawn to those who attach conditions to their love... It could also be that we attach conditions to our love. At the heart of these controlling and manipulative behaviours is fear... and, as a codependent, searching around for crumbs of affection is the norm. Trying to get people to like you by over-caring... by being the best partner/lover/friend/daughter/ son/workmate etc, we stand a chance of securing love. Is that true?
When we don't love ourselves, first and foremost, a huge chasm is felt inside and someone who experiences codependency will attempt to fill it by giving their all to someone - or something - leaving nothing for themselves. Low self-esteem, a lack of self-confidence and little or no self-belief are symptomatic of this behaviour.
What one thing could you do for yourself today?
Try one of the affirmations in this photo, as an "I am.."
"I am awesome!"
"I am appreciated!"
"I am loved!"
"I am enough!"
"I have enough!"
How does that feel? If you're having trouble even saying this, let alone believing it, maybe you could benefit from recovery coaching and start to work on your most important relationship - the one you have with yourself. In relearning love and letting go of conditions (the opposite of being a doormat!), your life becomes more joyful and less stressful, as you become more accepting of others and begin to let go of the need to control.
I would urge you to see your Doctor (if you haven't already) if you are feeling overwhelmed and have considered hurting yourself - or others.