ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Codependent or Just Crazy?

Updated on June 26, 2013
jmenter profile image

Author of, "You're Not Crazy-You're Codependent." which has been an Amazon best seller for two years and is being read world-wide.

Facing your broken thinking is the first step in overcoming your past.
Facing your broken thinking is the first step in overcoming your past.

Causes and Symptoms of Codependency

Feeling crazy is normal for people struggling with all that is codependency. But you're not really crazy. You just haven't put all the pieces of the codependency puzzle together yet.

What Codependency Looks Like

This is a partial list of how codependency manifests itself


  • endless guilt
  • anxiety
  • low self-esteem
  • obsessive behavior
  • track record of dysfunctional relationships
  • anger issues
  • care-taking/rescuer personality
  • overly responsible or controlling
  • depression
  • inability to trust
  • weak boundaries
  • repression (fear of speaking up lest there be punishment or rejection)
  • denial (can't see there is a problem)
  • numb or frozen (don't feel anything)
  • inability to enjoy intimacy
  • tendency toward addictive behavior (chemicals, smoking, sleeping, sex, shopping, etc.)
  • on-going physical ailments
  • terrified of rejection
  • unable to make decisions
  • feel overwhelmed easily
  • worry too much
  • consumed with shame

As if these weren't enough, there are constant lies swirling around in the codependent's head that make it impossible to function normally. They include:

"My happiness depends on whether everyone around me is 'happy' and approves of me, no matter what it costs me."

"I am responsible for fixing everyone and their problems."

"I am 'bad' and basically unlovable."


How Does It Start?

In a healthy home, a child's emotional needs are met. She is heard, acknowledged, nurtured and loved. In a dysfunctional one, she instead feels ignored, fearful, belittled and responsible for the well-being of the adults. In these families spontaneity and laughter are replaced by rigidness, an abundance of rules, secrets and ongoing tension.

Individuals are often enmeshed, meaning they are too entangled in each other's emotions. Boundaries are often overlapping and ignored or nonexistent.

Addiction is very often at the core, but not always. All this negativity, hostility and emotional confusion makes the child scared, insecure and eventually, angry.

Verbal and emotional abuse is common. In many cases so are verbal and even sexual abuse. These all lead to deeper, more dangerous feelings in the child such as rage, guilt and shame.

Spoken and unspoken messages like, "Don't talk, don't feel, don't trust" are commonplace. These create a sense of uncertainty and lead to a feeling of being crazy. By the time the child leaves this home, she is burdened with all the unhealthy emotions, thinking and behaviors that have come together to form a codependent personality. Since she only knows what she was raised with, she goes on to form equally dysfunctional relationships as an adult.

Being codependent will rob you of a real life. It will distort your self-view. It over rides everything you say and every decision you make. You are doomed to live out your life as half a person, and you will pass this legacy of unhappiness on to your children, unless you make the difficult decision to end this generational cycle.

How Do I Overcome It?

Anyone who has gone through the battle with codependency and come out of it victorious (yes, there are many who have) will tell you that it took years but it was so worth it. Remember, you are going to have to undo the habitual thinking that was ingrained in your mind as a child.

The very first step that must be taken is to commit to setting aside time for your own wellbeing. Why is that so hard? Because one of the hallmarks of codependency is that we believe we don't have time to do that, considering how much time we invest in 'helping' and 'fixing' others. That combined with our endless fatigue and magical thinking that tells us it's either hopeless or that we're fine. We are our own worst enemies!

Secondly, you must be willing and able to see yourself from a new perspective. Again, since you have always had a distorted view of yourself, this is very difficult.

Then, you have to go from 'knowing' to 'doing.' This is huge. Your natural behavior is destructive and negative. Our codependent, eternally reasoning minds will come up with all the answers, but the actual doing is terrifying because it requires going against our very nature. But that is, after all, how new habits are formed.

Finally, you must believe you can be healed. Can you truly see yourself with a new, fresh body, mind, soul and environment?

Your transformation will be on all these levels. It will require ongoing, intense therapy, reading, learning, praying, self- training and many tough decisions regarding the kind of life you want to create.

Mindfulness is an integral part of your healing. By using this simple way of reframing your thoughts, you can literally change your world. When searching for a good therapist, be sure and ask if he or she is familiar with this practice.

In my book, "You're Not Crazy-You're Codependent," I dedicate a third of the book to this incredibly powerful skill.

Codependent people are notorious for chanting, "I know, I know" without really committing to practice what it is they know. Make a decision to let yourself be immersed in these ideas and practices which may at first seem far-fetched. When you begin to feel overwhelmed or anxious, just walk away for a bit. Return when you can focus.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by doing the work of healing. If you are truly tired of being half-alive, make the tough choice to change from the inside.

It's important to remember that codependency is a lot like any other addiction in that while it is completely possible to overcome, you will always have to take it day by day, moment to moment. Why? Because your old thinking will naturally want to take over if you're not eternally vigilant. The difference for you in the future - after you've given yourself a new set of skills - will be that you will see what's happening in your thoughts. You will know how to mindfully stop the old, habitual, destructive thinking and put in its place your healthy thoughts. This will determine how you speak, act and view the world. The temptation to 'relapse' into old patterns will get less powerful as your new habits take hold.

Just as the recovering alcoholic extends her hands and words to help those who came after her, you will one day be ready to do the same. Be patient and stay committed. It will be worth it, I promise.




Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • jmenter profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeanette Menter 

      5 years ago from las vegas

      Denise, yes, this is a life-long challenge, but it sounds like you're making progress! The key is to see when you're falling into old patterns. Good luck...

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 

      5 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      As I look at this list of co-dependent characteristics, I see myself all over the place! I used to think that I developed it after I had children, but this hub helped me to see that it started back in my early childhood. Being aware that these issues exist has helped me in identifying and working through some of the thought patterns. The journey is ongoing, however, as new life situations bring up memories and feelings that were buried long ago.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)