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Reflections on Codependency


What is Codependency? From my perspective, it's a blend of emotional and behavioral tendencies where a person forms an unhealthy dependence on another for inner stability. My NA sponsor often describes it as, "Someone cutting themselves, and we bleed."


In simpler terms, it's relying on others to "fix" **OUR** internal thoughts and emotions. This might involve using our own self-criticisms, past experiences, or judgments of others as a way to get a "hit" similar to drug use. As my sponsor Ruth would say, the aim is often to maintain our personal comfort and avoid experiencing our own version of suffering.


Codependency frequently manifests as an excessive need to meet expectations, whether realistic or not, seeking approval, excessively fixing, managing, and attempting to control people, places, and things. It can also involve expecting unrealistic emotional support from others that they simply can't provide, usually at the expense of our well-being and self-esteem, leading to deeper self-doubt. A friend once put it this way: "If I ask you for five bucks, but you only have a dollar, and then I get mad at you for not having four more, who's the one that's messed up? People can't serve what's not on their personal menu at that time. We should recognize and respect that."


In codependent relationships, one person may adopt the caregiver role, constantly trying to fix or save the other, while the other person might be overly reliant, assuming the "victim" role. This dynamic can breed obligation, guilt, and resentment for both parties, resulting in an unhealthy and imbalanced relationship.


Codependency often originates from childhood experiences, such as unavailable caregivers, growing up in a dysfunctional family, or unhealthy interaction patterns that hinder attachment and bonding. It can also arise from having parents with substance abuse or mental health issues who struggle to care for themselves, let alone their child in a healthy manner.


In my own family, we were all fans of "Star Trek." My family members saw themselves as "Vulcans," but they jokingly called me "James T. Kirk of Earth." I felt like I was in the family but not truly part of it. Experiences like these can contribute to low self-worth, weak boundaries, and difficulty forming healthy relationships as an adult.


It's vital to understand that codependency is not exclusive to romantic relationships; it can also be present in friendships, family connections, and professional environments. Addressing codependency usually involves therapy, support groups, and learning new coping strategies to establish healthier relationship patterns, allowing us to foster healthier relationships with ourselves and others.


一We Are the Practice of Our Values Themselves

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