Are you Addicted to Love?
Love as a Drig; Codependency - The People Addiction...
Recent studies have show that love activates the same parts of the brain as cocaine.
Many people have heard the term codependency but aren't quite sure what it is, even if they have been told they suffer from it.
First identified in the 1960's as "dysfunctional communication patterns" in families where one or more people struggle with addiction, the term codependent was popularized by various 12-step groups.
According to Wikipedia:
"In general, the codependent is understood to be a person who perpetuates the alcohol or drug dependence of someone close to them in a way that hampers recovery. This can be done through direct control over the dependent, by making excuses for their dysfunctional behavior or relieving them of the consequences of the dependence. An act called enabling, this can have negative social and health consequences for both parties."
The classic example of a codependent relationship is a husband who gets drunk and can't go to work, so his wife calls his boss and makes excuses for him. The husband is unable to meet his own responsibilities so the wife takes responsibility for him. While the husband is addicted to alcohol, the wife appears to be addicted to the husband, and the husband in turn is dependent upon the wife.
But codependency can be present without outside chemicals, when one partner perpetuates the irresponsibility of another in whatever way. On the surface it appears to be love, but when two people become so hopelessly entangled that they can't tell one from the other, nobody wins.
The easy way to understand a codependent relationship it is to see it as an addiction in and of itself, only instead of an addiction to a substance, the codependent is addicted to a person or relationship. It is not a physical dependency, but an emotional dependency.
Much like a true addiction it is often a love-hate relationship. When the highs are high they are very high, but look out for the lows. It can lead to depression, more physical forms of addiction, and self-destructive behaviors. Codependents have a poor grasp on their own emotions, finding themselves unable to identify them or successfully communicate them to others.
Healthy Love Vs. Toxic Love
(Based on the work of Melody Beattie & Terence Gorski)
1. Love - Development of self first priority.
Toxic love - Obsession with relationship.
2. Love - Room to grow, expand; desire for other to grow.
Toxic love - Security, comfort in sameness; intensity of need seen as proof of love (may really be fear, insecurity, loneliness)
3. Love - Separate interests; other friends; maintain other meaningful relationships.
Toxic love - Total involvement; limited social life; neglect old friends, interests.
4. Love - Encouragement of each other's expanding; secure in own worth.
Toxic love - Preoccupation with other's behavior; fear of other changing.
5. Love - Appropriate Trust (i.e. trusting partner to behave according to fundamental nature.)
Toxic love - Jealousy; possessiveness; fear of competition; protects "supply."
6. Love - Compromise, negotiation or taking turns at leading. Problem solving together.
Toxic love - Power plays for control; blaming; passive or aggressive manipulation.
7. Love - Embracing of each other's individuality.
Toxic love - Trying to change other to own image.
8. Love - Relationship deals with all aspects of reality.
Toxic love - Relationship is based on delusion and avoidance of the unpleasant.
9. Love - Self-care by both partners; emotional state not dependent on other's mood.
Toxic love - Expectation that one partner will fix and rescue the other.
10. Love - Loving detachment (healthy concern about partner, while letting go.)
Toxic love - Fusion (being obsessed with each other's problems and feelings.)
11. Love - Sex is free choice growing out of caring & friendship.
Toxic love - Pressure around sex due to insecurity, fear & need for immediate gratification.
12. Love - Ability to enjoy being alone.
Toxic love - Unable to endure separation; clinging.
13. Love - Cycle of comfort and contentment.
Toxic love - Cycle of pain and despair.
Making the change...
If you were raised in a codependent home, most of these are the exact opposite behaviors of what you have learned. Love, they told us, was supposed to be about self-sacrifice. Thinking of ourselves and our needs was just being selfish.
You find your whole relationship based on extremes. As my mother put it, it is either heaven or hell, and you fluctuate between those two extremes, but there is rarely a time when things are just normal.
You find yourself picking fights for no reason on some days, and avoiding conflict altogether on others. The whole relationship seems to become either fighting or making up. If it is anything it is intense, and that intensity affirms that yes, this really is love.
Love for a codependent really is an addiction, and we needed a constant supply. If for some reason that supply was interrupted, we felt our whole world shift.
What you are really trying to do is just balance things out, so when working to recover from codependent relationships use this list as a guide. It gives you a great starting point.
Codependency and Abuse
The question is often asked...
"Why doesn't someone in an abusive relationship just leave?"
You find your answer in codependency, in the addiction to the other person. In this case the abuser has worked hard to reinforce that addiction to the point that the abuse itself becomes an affirmation of the intense love the abuser feels for the victim.
At the same time, the victim often clings to the belief that the abuser will change. The victim is actually more concerned with the abuser than they are with themselves.
For more info on this subject follow the link below.
Yes, recovery is possible once you understand exactly what codependency is and what it does to your life and your relationships. If you were raised in an abusive home, or addiction was present, chances are you have learned some codependent behaviors.
Codependents tend towards passive or even aggressive ways to get their needs met rather than healthy and assertive means. Instead of saying "I want," they either say "It would be nice." or "Give me now, dammit."
One interesting thing I noticed is that I spent so long is passive mode, but as I began to change at first I became very aggressive. (Just ask my dear hubby.) Another person I have been working closely with says the same thing.
It's as if I was afraid to have my new found freedoms taken away, so I held on to them even more tightly. It wasn't pretty, but it did pass. So if you notice an extreme fluctuation in your own behaviors, don't worry. This seems normal and natural, but certainly isn't somewhere you want to stay for long.
It is all about legitimate rights.
Someone whose rights are consistently violated is passive.
Someone who consistently violates the rights of others is aggressive.
To be assertive is to maintain the rights of both parties whenever possible.
Self-Help that really helps!
I went through many different books on my way to recovery. Codependency is a widely covered topic, and there are some really great books on the market. Some of my favorites are...