- Mental Health
Feeling alittle crazy? You may just be codependent!
What it means to be codependent
Codependency is a highly overused and misunderstood word. In the past, it referred to someone who was enmeshed with a person who was addicted (dependent) on either drugs or alcohol. This person was 'co-dependent' in the sense that she shared the same addict-consumed lifestyle as the user.
More recently, it has come to mean anyone who came from a dysfunctional background where emotional needs are not met. Instead of a healthy environment where she is heard, nurtured, protected; she instead feel ignored, fearful, belittled and responsible for the happiness of the parents or partner.
In most cases, all roads lead back to addiction, abuse, trauma or a shame-based relationship of some kind. A more detailed description can be found in my book.
What it does to your personality and health
Left to run rampant in your mind, codependency will twist your character until you no longer feel fully alive, but simply exist, stuck in the mire of a hopeless battle to be free of your pain. Common traits include:
- Low Self-Esteem
- Obsessive Behavior
- Sexual Problems (too promiscuous or unable to enjoy)
- Track Record of Dysfunctional Relationships
- Care-Taking/Rescuer to the Extreme
- Overly Responsible or Controlling
- Foggy Thinking or Numb
- Overwhelming or Ongoing Shame
- Compulsive/Addictive Personality
- Fear of Rejection
If you have spent your life coping with the affects of living with addiction (yours or someone close to you), abuse, shame (when used to control you) or trauma that has not been dealt with, a tremendous toll is taken on your physical well-being. Here is a sampling of how your emotional pain will manifest in your body over time:
- Chronic Fatigue
- Immune System or Endocrine Problems
- Chronic Pain
- Skin Disorders
- Digestive Problems
- Severe Menstrual Syndrome
- Feeling Dead Inside
These symptoms are part of a large study done by Peter A. Levine, PhD. a respected leader in the field of healing emotional trauma in the body.
Perhaps the saddest thing about codependency is that because we feel so terribly inadequate, we gradually develop a 'false self' to protect us from our pain and allow us to function in the world. Our authentic self; the person we were meant to be before being harmed, eventually slips away.
You can overcome and find peace
Anyone who has read my book knows that I have walked down the same path you are. Our stories are different, but the end results (see the lists above) are the same. Many times over the years I have felt broken and hopeless, wishing and hoping for a miracle that would transform me into a 'normal' person. In the end (the end always comes just before your breakthrough) I finally accepted the truth: even though I was begging God and everyone else who would listen for an answer, I still believed on an unconscious level that I could control how that miracle would play out. I still wanted to change everyone around me and my circumstances. Changing me was too hard - not because I didn't want to; I simply didn't know how.
As much as I loathed myself because of my controlling, perfectionistic and manipulative behavior and thinking, I was powerless to stop it.
My 'breakthrough' didn't come in an ah-ha moment. It was gradual. Once I opened my mind to new ways of thinking and viewing the world, slight changes began to occur. And I felt something stirring in me I had never known before. I felt hopeful.
As I learned more, the dots started connecting. My personality started softening. All those sickening, habitual ways of thinking started to feel wrong. I was changing! As I did, things became very clear to me. All the hurt, the fears, terrible memories, resentments, the endless rage, the loss of my childhood - all seemed to come together in a mosaic. Their message was that I had not just survived - I was an overcomer! A wonderful life was waiting for me. In time, my life began to have more color and I felt more at peace. Once I trusted that what was happening in me was real (trust is very hard for us) I knew I was supposed to share all that I had experienced and learned so that others going through the same hell would have hope and new tools to be overcomers, too. My mess would become my message, to quote Joyce Meyer.
"You're Not Crazy-You're Codependent" literally came through me two and a half years ago. I don't think I could do it again. And since its publication, I have been getting positive feedback from all over the country, Europe, Australia and India. I am astounded (although I shouldn't be) that so many people are in such need.
I'm not pushing a book. I'm extending an invitation.
If you feel lost, hopeless, angry, scared, numb....if you saw yourself in the lists above; then you might be ready to begin your journey. Or maybe you're already working on becoming a healthier person. I urge you to learn everything you can. Get as many points of view as possible, including mine.
As I say on my website, www.crazyorcodependent.com "I'd wish you luck, but it has nothing to do with luck. Be brave."
Jeanette Menter is the publisher of, "You're Not Crazy-You're Codependent" available at www.amazon.com