10 Signs That you May Be Codependent

Someone on my other website requested more information about codependency. Codependency is much harder to recognize than most other addictions. Here’s a really simplistic description: Codependents have a hard time loving themselves so they need others to fill that void for them. Here’s a list of 10 things that may be signs that you rely on other people for your sense of fulfillment.

  • We act differently around different people.

o   Codependents usually don’t have a strong sense of self. We don’t really like ourselves so rely on other people to like us. So we will mirror the behavior of the people we are around.

  • We let people talk down to us.

o   Again since we don’t really like ourselves we may feel like we deserve to take abusive behavior from others and/or we may be afraid of confrontation. ( I’m not talking about a full on fight here). Some of us have had abusive relationships in our past that have left us afraid to speak up for ourselves out of fear of the reaction that we will get.

  • We talk down to others.

o   Not all codependents are passive, in fact even people who think they are too passive may find that they are abusive sometimes too when they get honest with themselves. (I’m raising my hand here). Some codependents talk down to others. My own experience with living with an active addict has shown me that sometimes I talk down to the person I love because I think if I Just say something to make him feel guilty enough they will stop and change. This has never worked, but that is where the insanity part comes in if you are familiar with the 12 steps. Now that I think about it I think I got this one from my mom!

  • We try to control people or situations

o   Some people know that they are control freaks, this all comes down to the fact that we don’t think others can take care of themselves and that they need our direction, and codependents need to be needed. When things don’t go our way we usually don’t react like mature adults. Have you ever freaked out because you didn’t get what you wanted and wonder: “Where did that come from?” If so there might be some things going on there from childhood that you haven’t healed from yet, you probably aren’t even aware of it. (More on your inner child in another post).

  • We ‘go along’ with what others want.

o   In other words we are people pleasers. I used to go along with whatever my boyfriend wanted to do even when I knew I didn’t really want to. I did this because I was afraid that he would leave if I didn’t. I have always had a fear of being alone, I have pretty much always been in a relationship. Codependents don’t feel loveable or worthwhile so once we find someone we latch on.

  • We give unsolicited advice.

o   We may feel the need to give everybody our input whether they ask for it or not. We need people to listen to us so we can feel smart, wise and so we can say ‘I told you so’. We have a hard time just listening.   This makes us feel needed and better than others.

  • We feel the need to take care of others.

o   This falls under the category of needing to be needed. For example, some parents get depressed when the children leave the house, without anybody to take care of their lives seem to have less meaning. Some of us take care of others at our own expense. Helping others is a good thing but only if you are able to and if you don’t have ulterior motives, or expect anything in return (like for people to like you or love you more).

  • We judge others and gossip.

o   We do this because it makes us feel superior. Start paying attention to the kinds of negative things you notice in people. I can almost guarantee that the things you react to in others are characteristics or qualities of yourself that you don’t like.

  • We have to ‘keep up with the jones’’.

o   Some codependents need to have nice things so that others will perceive them as successful and like they have it all together. Needing to have nice things is always a cover up for something deeper. When we need to appear successful in the eyes of others we don’t believe people will like us for who we are. After getting sober and working on my codependency I started to get the shopping bug because I know that getting nice things makes me feel good for a minute. That’s about it. A few minutes… Then I usually regret the purchase. It’s the same thing as stuffing your face with a pile of chocolate when you are depressed, or smoking this or that, or drinking. It is filling an empty space.

  • We are indecisive

o   We don’t trust ourselves to make good decisions, because we think that we are not good enough, smart enough, etc. With certain decisions, we may ask everyone we know for their advice. I’m not really talking about standing in the toothpaste aisle for 15 minutes. I mean harder decisions like should I stay in this relationship or not, should I go back to school, should I change jobs…

These are some things that I have noticed in myself and we may not see some of these are harmful behaviors if it isn’t causing a lot of trouble in our lives. You may have also said to yourself ‘who doesn’t do these things?’. I believe just about everybody in the world is at least kind of codependent. In some cases though, it is downright destructive.

Posted in Recovery | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The First Life Lesson I Learned In Recovery

No enemy is worse than bad advice.

Sophocles

 

Don’t take relationship advice.

People love to give advice.  I have had so many people tell me that I should leave my partner and do this or do that.  What they don’t realize most of the time.  They don’t even know how to have a healthy relationship!!  I’m pretty sure every relationship has problems, even if they are hidden from outsiders, they are there.  So don’t let anyone convince you that they have the key to great relationships.  Unless of course they have had experiences similar to yours. 

I have had a very tumultuous relationship with my boyfriend who is also my kids Dad.  I got sober before him and my life with him has been living hell on a number of occasions.  Most people told me to get out of the situation.  Maybe their advice wasn’t too bad.  I’ll tell you a couple of things though, I have grown so much spiritually, and I have become an empowered woman, because of my experiences with this man.  When I met him I would do whatever he told me because I was afraid he would leave.  I had no sense of self-worth.  I have learned from him that I have a voice and I know how to use it now.  I don’t let anyone treat me like a doormat, including him.  The relationship forced me to look at my fatal issue of codependency.  I think my experience with him has also given me the ability to help people who struggle in recovery.  I have to remind myself  over and over again to look at myself.  If I judge him, I am forced to remember that I used to be just like him.  I am not better than an active addict just because I have found a way out.  So I think being with an addict has given me a unique ability to empathize with others, it has helped me get out of ego and it has taught me to love unconditionally(isn’t that what all religions and spiritual teachers preach?)  I wouldn’t have learned those lessons if I had taken everyone’s advice.

When people try to tell you how to live your life I can tell you for sure that they are behaving codependently, and for one reason or another they want you to do as they say so they can fell better. 

If this person is you, let’s get honest here what are you getting out of it?  Are you judging their situation?  Do you feel superior because your situation is different?  It probably gives you a sense of satisfaction if someone takes your advice.  But what if it backfires?  I am a strong believer that people should mind their own business, it will create less drama.  And what we really need when we are seeking support is understanding.  SO I don’t mean we should never share ourselves with another person, but eventually you will know who wants to support and who wants to judge and strengthen their own ego.  Someone who wants to support you may tell you their own experiences in a similar situation but they will not influence you to act in a particular way. 

I have been both, I have been the ‘wise’ person giving the advice and I have been the advised.  I had to learn that I invited people to come in and judge me and give me bad advice.  I have learned to be selective with the people that I share with.  I don’t tell people things that are none of their business anymore.  I share with people who love me and don’t criticize me. I am able to tell people what I don’t need from them and what I do need from them.  I told my mom not too long ago ‘I just need you to love me and be my Mom, I don’t need the abuse and the criticism’.  Sometimes people don’t realize that their behavior is harmful, they can’t read our minds. Everyone has their own path and I really believe I would have done myself a disservice had I listened to what everyone else thought.

I’d like to hear from you guys.  What advice are you glad you didn’t take, or what advice did you take that you wish you hadn’t?

 

Posted in Recovery | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Taking Your Power Back, Part 2 (codependency and other behaviors)

 

Codependency is the basis of all my dysfunctional behaviors!  This is something I have come to learn over recent years, it is true for me.  For years I heard that I’m codependent, I never really knew what that meant though.  I had some idea, I would stay in dysfunctional relationships because I thought I couldn’t do any better, I never talked (like hardly ever), I would seriously walk down the street looking down at my feet because I was afraid of other people.  Looking back on it I was seriously f***ed up!

Getting of drugs and alcohol was a start to my healing, I began to gain some power and confidence back, and after a year or so I realized; Sobriety just isn’t that great (which is only true if you are not working on yourself).  I had stagnated, I had worked the steps and I was miserable.  I learned more about codependency and how to stop being codependent,  and it was like a whole new world opened up for me.

The only way you can start to heal yourself on this level is to be brutally honest with yourself.  Do you rely on other people to make you happy?  Do you get upset if someone forgets your birthday?  To you gossip?  Or call people names, tell them they aren’t good enough?  Or it cold be the opposite, Do you let people talk to you disrespectfully? Do you tell yourself you aren’t good enough, that you don’t deserve to have the life you desire?  This is by no means a complete list.  But it is a good starting point.

When you truly love yourself you won’t mind if someone forgets your birthday because you know that it is not personal, you will do what makes you happy whether you are doing it alone or with a friend because it is for you and it makes you feel good.  You will stand up for yourself, you will be able to assertively remove yourself from harmful situations and from the company of people who do not treat you well.

What started the process of healing for me was looking at my past.  Try this exercise:  Try to remember the first time you ever felt like you weren’t good enough.  Did your parents yell a lot when you were very young, were you picked on in school, or maybe your parents drove you to overachieve making you fell like they wouldn’t love you if you didn’t go above and beyond.  Whatever it is try to remember the very first time.  For me when I learned where my self-destructive behaviors came from then I was able to take my power back.  I learned that these behaviors and limiting beliefs were ingrained in me since childhood.  Once I realized that I was looking at the world through the eyes of a hurt child, I was able to start taking accountability for myself today.  Once I had this awareness I couldn’t play the victim anymore.  I had to start parenting and nurturing my inner child myself.

 

Posted in Codependency, Recovery | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Sources of Inpiration Needed!!

Don’t worry two posts in one day probably won’t happen again 🙂  I just want to make an announcement.  I am asking you to send me your favorite quote, short story, etc. that has been a source of inspiration to you on your journey.  (You don’t have to be in recovery to contribute).

I am developing a free android app and I need 365 quotes, meditations or short stories to be included to enhance a daily spiritual practice.

If it didn’t come from your head please include your source.  If it did come from you and you want credit, include your name in the contact form.

Use the contact form here, and please keep entries somewhat short.   The app will be distributed through an email list.

Thanks!!  I will keep everyone updated on the status.

Posted in Recovery | Leave a comment

Taking Your Power Back (From substances) continued..

Hello friends!  Have you heard of the ‘pink cloud’ reference?  If you are new to recovery and you have never heard this, pay attention 🙂  When you are newly sober you may have the feeling that life is just great now that you are clean and sober.  Nothing seems to be able to get you down.  The ‘pink cloud’ is recovery jargon for this feeling of elation when we put down the drugs or alcohol.  And I promise you, at some point you will fall off this cloud.  You will star to get irritable, restless and discontent. (A little more AA jargon for you, I can’t help it!)  I should point out that although my life isn’t all about ‘the program’ anymore, I still deeply respect the principles and, what can I say… some of the things in the ‘Big Book’ are just worded perfectly. 

So what now?  You have been sober for a few weeks, maybe months and all of a sudden you can’t control you emotions, you are resentful at everything and everyone that breathes your way, maybe you still can’t hold a job.  What I have noticed with true addicts and alcoholics, myself included, is we get sober and just try to live life normally and our lives are just as bad and possibly worse than when we were loaded.  If you are like me, by this point you are probably asking yourself… “WHY AM I SUCH A MESS?!”  Naturally, it seems like once we put down the (insert drug of choice here) that we should have great lives.  But the unfortunate, or fortunate fact (depending on how you look at it) it that everyone lives according to what the ego wants, especially if we are not aware of what the ego is or what it wants.  I say everyone because I mean most everyone in the world lives this way, drug addict or not.  There are a lot of people out there who are miserable because they are unaware of this one fact.  Some of them have been sober 30 years and some have never touched a drink or a drug.  Your ego is not your amigo!  (I owe that one to a girl I worked with at one point). Which brings me to the point I have been trying to get to.

The path of true, lasting recovery starts with surrender!

This may seem like it goes against what we are trying to attain here, which is power over drugs and alcohol, power over our lives, etc.  But I don’t think it is possible for us to grow in our power until we have experienced pain, and we will stay in that pain until we surrender to what is. The first step in 12 step programs says “We admitted we were powerless over ______- that our lives had become unmanageable”.  It is easy to look at our destructive past and say “Yes I have a problem and I am powerless”.  That is how I have seen many people take this first step.  That’s all it is “yep, I’m powerless… next.”  This did not work for me.  This is not true surrender.  This is a rational observation.  In order to truly surrender we have to have an experience with this powerlessness.  First of all I needed to know why I was powerless.  Most of the people I know never explore this area.  In a nutshell we are powerless because:

  • we are spiritually sick
  • spiritual sickness results in us being restless, irritable and discontent
  • this dis-ease leads us to obsess about what we know will make us feel better (for a minute)
  • when we are living in this state it is only a matter of time before we pick up again

I think of true surrender as knowing that you are powerless deep down in your soul.  It’s hard to put this into words because people understand logic, words describe things that our rational minds can understand.  For me it was something that I felt and just intuitively knew.

Once you have reached this point you have taken a little more power back.  The next two steps in 12 step programs create trouble with a lot of people, I mean a lot of people.  Since this is not an overview of the 12 steps I will just briefly explain it.  After you have figured out that your problem is not the substance, you hopefully realize that the problem is lack of power.  So the next thing you have to do is figure out where the power that you need to save your life is going to come from.  I don’t care if you are atheist or agnostic there are powers greater than yourself. The way I started opening up my mind was by telling myself that if I could make the sun rise and set at my will or control the traffic to my liking, then I wouldn’t need a power greater than myself.

Some people choose to use their recovery group as their higher power, I personally see a problem with that.  As people, as well as groups of people, are fallible and they will let you down at some point, especially if you are running around in self-will expecting everyone to act how you think they should act.  (This is codependency by the way).  But it has worked for some people.  I think the biggest problem with some of the older 12 step programs is the fact that they say it is not a religious program, in all reality it is a Christian-based program.  This bothered me at the beginning and it still kind of does.  The program just doesn’t consider any alternative paths to Spirit or Source (what I call it these days).  But I had to learn to look around all the stuff that I didn’t believe and make it work for me.  For example, I don’t believe that there is an all-knowing man/god that is out trying to get me to live life according to his will.  So for me turning my will over to ‘God as I understand him’ just wasn’t going to work.  So I had to think of it in another way.  To me its just about getting out of self-will and trying to do the right thing without selfish motives.  Kind of letting go of the reins, letting life unfold as it is going to with or without my input.  In other words getting out of my ego.

The biggest difference here from what I am sharing and from what 12 step groups teach (in meetings mostly, in meetings you hear opinions a lot of the time, instead of what the program is really about) is about where the power lies.  One line of the ‘Big Book’ states that the ‘Great Power lies deep within you’.  In my area I never ever hear anybody talk about this, the power is out there somewhere else, apparently.  Finding the power within myself has been my path. I know that the power to change my life is not out there with some guy in the clouds, but I have the power and I always have had the power.  It is just a matter of finding out how to get all the crap out of the way and get connected to the ‘Source’ of my being.  I have read so many non-recovery related books that have helped me, I won’t be stingy with them, I promise 🙂 But I do need to put some thought into which ones actually helped.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Recovery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment