Hilda wasn't sure how it happened to her. She looked for clues in the lives of the women in her family who seemed to have become martyrs who suffered for their children and tried to keep promises to God. Doc had puzzled Hilda the day he'd said to her, "We don't live like that anymore." All she could think was, "Some of us do," though she didn't say it. Instead, she stowed away their conversation for further study later. And it came to mind frequently.
So the conversation about how people live today was foremost in Hilda's mind. She distinctly remembered thinking one long ago day that she would never martyr herself, never stay with a man who was miserable and unhappy with her. But when did codependency happen?
Codependency is excessive emotional or psychological dependence on a partner who typically needs support due to addiction or illness. Initially, it was associated with addiction. It also has become known as relationship addiction, the state in which the relationship is more important to you than you are to yourself. You try to make the relationship work by yourself, half of the whole.
The codependent is the one who works so hard to fix everything over and over again when their partner can't or won't take interest in making the relationship work the way it's supposed to. Codependents think all they've been doing is trying to make things better.
Hilda saw clearly how her mother had bent over backward to take care of everything because her father didn't care enough to take care of anything. Had she done the same thing?
How do you know if you are a codependent?
- Do you judge yourself harshly or always second-guess yourself? And do these actions enable someone in your life to continue their unacceptable behaviors?
- Do you think you have to insure everyone's happiness? Happiness comes from inside each of us. It is not something one can give to another. But a codependent tries and tries over and over again to fix things.
- Are you the real deal or do you present a faade to the world because others may not like you if they knew how you really are? And do you have trouble staying centered because your center keeps moving around?
- Are you the doormat? The dog that gets kicked when everyone walks through the door after another day in their rat race?
- When someone disagrees with you do you lose sight of your thoughts and ideas? Can you define how you feel? No?
- Do you wait for someone to stop and listen to you? It isn't that you want a real conversation. You just want that person to stop and listen to what you have to say.
- Are you really accident prone or are you on top of everyone so they can't avoid you?
- You aren't happy unless the other person agrees with you. Do you want to be used?
Take a look at a codependent's dog. That pet mirrors its master and might be a guide to recognizing codependence. The relationship should be one of interdependence (mutually dependent on each other, not a one-sided relationship.)
Codependents have good hearts and care deeply. That's why they become codependent in the first place. They are perfectionists who are self-sufficient and don't ask for help. They hate conflict and aim to keep the peace, even if it means walking on eggshells.
Remember, this day, this moment, is all you have.
Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related mental health issues. For more information about codependency and what you can do about it, contact FRC at 964-966 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.