“So much of what I call my codependency is fear and panic because I spent so much of my life being abused, trapped, and not knowing how to take care of myself in relationships.” Anonymous
Codependency is a powerful, insidious “dis-ease.” It is very difficult to face and enter recovery for many reasons. Let’s look at four today: 1) Usually, where there is a codependent there is an alcoholic or addict – and the codependent gets to hide behind his or her stance of: “I am taking care of things and picking up the pieces” armor. As “the responsible one” (doing way more than your fair share) and the one worrying (and isn’t fear at the base of worry), and the one figuring out in their head how to make things better, you get to pretend you are the one more together….it is denial at work to your own detriment.
2) You become your own worst enemy, because you lead yourself away from reality and health and willingly go to a panicky, fearful place based on your own fantasies you call reality, where your very survival or someone else’s very survival depends on (Fill in the blank___________________ with something you believe to be true but the other person may not) and you MUST show them the way. It is a desperate state of being that clouds your sense of reality and judgment.
3) How about when you grow up in a home, where, for whatever reasons you are gripped by fear, anxiety, to the point of survival terror being a place you go automatically, and then feel your very existence depends on you knowing, “THE RIGHT thing to do AND it is an emergency AND it must be done right away OR horrible things ARE going to happen!!!” That way of thinking puts you in a REACTIVE STATE. When you are in “REACTIVE STATE” you cannot be in a, “reasonable state” at the same time; they are housed in incompatible parts of the brain. It is one or the other – and when survival fear, panic, terror emotions are triggered – you are in REACTIVE STATE; you are literally stuck in there. Even if a tiny voice is saying – “Do not do this – wait” – your anxiety or terror level is so high you cannot respond to the voice, and you are trapped in REACTIVITY. I think of it as a land of denial, justification, blindness, and distortion where thoughtful responses are not possible only frantic attempts to survive.
4) Another key perspective is – most codependents act when they think they are doing/saying something that will really be in someone else’s best interests. You truly believe or tell yourself you are doing ____________________ in order to help someone else because it will be good for them. What if you entertain the possibility that often, what is really happening is: you are operating from a place of being in fear, panic, desperation and what you are doing is actually trying to relieve your own discomfort and you translate that concept in real time into thinking/believing you are doing this for someone else’s good…..? Try, next time you are doing something in a somewhat desperate way….try asking yourself: “Is this about you (and alleviating your own discomfort) or about their welfare?
Does any of that sound familiar? If so, what are some of your alternatives? How do you get out? What would recovery look like, feel like, sound like, and be like?