Codependent behavior is detrimental to you and to the person or people that you are codependent on. A lot of people that are codependent do not even realize that they are codependent. They have a helping model attitude but there is really nothing altruistic about the behavior.
Codependency was a term that was coined to describe the behavior of someone that lived with or helped to cover up an addict’s lifestyle. Typically it is a blood relationship or a relationship through marriage. The codependent person supports the addict, makes excuses for the addict and can even run interference so that the addict does not get help.
Codependency is a dance between two people. The addict needs their drugs or their alcohol to get by in life and the codependent party needs the addict to be an addict so that they can get their purpose from the relationship.
It is a completely unhealthy relationship for both the addict and the codependent person. The addict will remain an addict and the codependent person will remain dependent on the addict unless someone makes a move to change things.
The First Step
The absolute first step to ending codependent behavior is recognizing that something is wrong. If you are involved with an addict or an alcoholic and you have done any of the following you may have a codependency issue:
1. Called an employer and made excuses for missed work even though you knew it was drug or alcohol related. If you have done it more than once you likely have a problem that you need to address.
2. Make excuses for drug or alcoholic outbursts. If you have excused someone’s behavior for them by making up a story to garner sympathy for them like “oh Johnny never acts like that he just had a rough week” or “ Mary doesn’t drink more than one or two glasses of wine a day” when you know Mary is polishing off a bottle before dinner than you have an issue. Explaining away someone’s behavior is not your job.
3. Have you helped someone pass a drug or urine test? Lied to a medical professional for them?
4. Have you helped someone pay a debt that is drug or alcohol related or caused by drug or alcohol use?
5. Have you agreed to tell cover stories in personal relationships for someone you know is using drugs or alcohol? Have you helped someone with legal issues that are caused by drugs or alcohol?
6. Have you given your bill money up to someone in your life that drinks excessively or that takes drugs?
7. Do you tolerate abusive language? Allow an addict or an alcoholic to call you any time of the day or night if they need you to clean up their mess?
8. Do you spend an extraordinary amount of time providing meals, clothing, shelter and generally making life easier for someone that is addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling or some other detrimental activity?
The above are all signs that you may have a codependency issue. Getting help can greatly change your life for the better and may even help the person that you are codependent on.
Treatment is a Must
Breaking the cycle of codependency is not something most people can do on their own. If you recognize yourself in any of the signs above than your next step should be to contact a professional. There are group organizations that can help as well but if you prefer you can meet with a therapist one on one.
There is a reason that you are codependent. Figuring out the reason on your own can be difficult if not impossible. There are things that we all like to tuck away about ourselves and to ignore or be less aware of so bringing a professional to the table is a necessity.
A professional therapist can help you to uncover the reason why you are codependent and help you to overcome it.
Once you have recognized that there is an issue. You can take control of your life by practicing saying NO. It is a little word that carries a great deal of weight and can be one of the hardest words to utter to someone you love.
While you are headed for treatment in the meanwhile practice saying no. Let the person that you are codependent on know that you will be practicing NO quite a bit so they should prepare themselves. Take responsibility and recognize that you are part of the problem and let the person that you are codependent upon that you have recognized it and will be getting help to put an end to it.
You can break the habit of codependency with a strong commitment to wellness and a realizing that you matter. Don’t be afraid to reach out and get the help that you need to live a fuller life that you choose to live.