Laura is a lovely lady I met while on a work trip. We had been assigned the same house by our host. She was very vocal about her journey of healing. She shared her recovery journey from codependence. When I asked her if she was okay with me using her story in my blogs, she gladly obliged.
Laura had been married for five years. During the time of her marriage, she had taken up the responsibility of caring for her husband as well as that of his family. She met the husband in hospital where she worked at the time. During her routine visits to see her patients, she met this wonderful man who had had an accident and wasn’t able to walk at the time.
She was so pained by the fact that he had no family members coming over to visit him and that after being in hospital for three months, he had lost his job. That was the point of attraction for Laura, she felt that the patient needed her and that if she was in his life, she would help him get well, have someone who would be family in the hospital and also be that someone who would constantly care.
The husband on the other hand felt “saved” from a horrible situation by Laura and thought that the best idea was to engage her right away. This was the beginning of their codependent relationship. Later that year, Laura married the love of her life just after he had learnt to walk.
Before the loss of his job, he cared for his parents and siblings and took care of all their financial burdens. When they got married, Laura took over the burden of caring for the husband and his family. When she felt overburdened by the financial responsibilities, she constantly told herself that if her parents were alive, she would have loved to do the same.
At 16 years old, Laura had taken up the role of parenting her two younger sisters following the death of their parents. The two sisters had long completed school and become independent. She had constantly turned to them for financial help so that she would manage shouldering the financial burden of her marriage and that of in-laws.
This is when she realized that she needed help on how to move forward. This is the time she and her husband sought marital therapy and that’s the time she learnt about codependency and codependency patterns.
One is codependent if they possess the following patterns;
These patterns are manifested by the need for codependents to voluntarily do for others things they can do for themselves. Sometimes they even believe that if they do not, the others will continue suffering. This is exactly what Laura had felt for her husband while he was in the hospital.
What causes the rescue pattern to be maintained?
Anyone who has experienced codependency will clearly tell you that it is tiring at some point. The one unconscious motivation to maintain this behavior is that the rescuer feels more superior to their victims, they feel they are better human beings than others who do not give.
Denial patterns present in codependency when they avoid unpleasant or painful things. Denial allows a person to avoid seeing and feeling what’s really going on both outside and inside them. This pattern pushes codependents to deny how they themselves truly feel while they pay attention to others’ feelings and sometimes own those feelings.
In dysfunctional families where denial patterns are used, the members lack the ability to define, as well as the skills to resolve the problems. They learn to deny their own needs and feelings as opposed to rocking the boat by attempting to resolve the issues.
Low Self Esteem Patterns.
This patterns marked by a codependents’ inability to accept themselves unconditionally. They attach love to what they do and feel that by giving more, doing more, sacrificing more etc., then they will be appreciated more. When they do their best but still don’t get accepted, they self-doubt their worth even more.
This pattern does not allow them to receive recognition, praise or gifts. Codependents find it very difficult to ask others to meet their needs because they do not perceive themselves as worthy of love. They continue to harshly judge their own thoughts and hardly feel good enough.
Even when they are high achievers, codependents continue to depend on their bosses, colleagues and even partners for approval. When they do not receive approval, they continue to feel insufficient and are not able to appreciate their own accomplishment.
Codependents develop patterns of blaming others for what is not working in their lives and often blame themselves too for what is not working well in others’ lives. They continue to carry unnecessary load of burden for others but also expect others to carry the same burden for them.
They have challenges being able to learn the lessons and move on because they are stuck at the feelings of shame, guilt and regret that were mostly learnt right from their childhood.
Codependency thrives in passivity. This pattern originates from the family where one was raised. Passive people behave that way as they never learned to get what they wanted in direct active ways. In relationships, they continue the same codependent patterns of expecting their needs to be met without directly communicating it.
They compromise their values and integrity from time to time in order to avoid rejection. They continue to value the opinion of others over their own because they are afraid of expressing different opinions. In many instances they own interests and hobbies of others so as to do what others want.
Part of passivity pattern used by codependents is “mind reading”. They expect the people they are in relationship with to be able to tell their needs and how exactly they would love them met. When their relationship counterparts do not do this, they become angry, bitter and resentful.
For codependents nothing can be done right unless it’s done their way or as they perceive things. This pattern makes them overwhelmed as they try to fix many things in the way they want them to be. One thing that they do not recognize is that their way is not the only right way.
As part of their control, a codependent become resentful when others do not allow them to help. They keep wondering why other people do not want to be ‘better people’. They continue to offer others advice and direction without being asked to.
As a result, when it is their time of need, they continue to expect others to come through for them in reciprocal to what they have constantly done all this time. They however, do not directly ask for help.
They continue relationships with needy individuals because they believe that they have to be needed in order to sustain relationships with others. This is the reason they sustain their caretaking role in relationships.
If these patterns are present in your life, you need to heal from codependency. Since codependency is an addiction that is used by unresolved pain in childhood, it may be helpful to find a professional to help you through the healing journey.
-By Joan Kirera- Family Therapist. For more visit: www.joankirera.com: Facebook: joan kirera, YouTube: joan kirera