Are you Co-Dependent?

via Richard Skerritt

Today's essay is the landing page for people searching for understanding about codependence. On most subjects, I'm encouraging people to build and apply their understanding. But in my assessment, codependence falls in with the mythological concepts of narcissism. I think both are self-indulgent stories that serve the interest of the story teller but not the listener.

Instead of wringing your hands about being codependent, I encourage you to recognize the real sticking points in your life outlook and life choices. I deal with these in Tears & Healing, which explores the emotional issues of obligation, love and attraction, reality distortion, and a weak or missing life vision.  In Love and Loving It - Or Not!  amplifies and magnifies the dynamics of love and attraction and how we can try to make choices so those emotions work more for us than against us. Meaning from Madness explains what motivates the disordered, how they distort reality and what the prospects for improvement are. I now have Tears & Healing Reflections , The Richard Skerritt Pack with all five of my books; the Relationship Pack with the four books that deal with relationships with a disordered person; and the smaller triple pack . Everything is here.

There is some repetition in the bodies of these landing pages, which I'm leaving in this format. As always, take what works and leave the rest.]

Are You Codependent? Overcome the love locking you in. Find the Courage to Leave.

Are you codependent? Have you been convinced that there is something fundamentally wrong with you? What does codependence really mean?

We end up in abusive and unhealthy situations for lots of reasons. Moreover, we often stay in them for reasons that are healthy, even though the situation isn't. Some people want to tell us that if we are in an unhealthy situation we must be "codependent". The problem is, it's not true. What's more, "codependence" isn't a defined problem that we directly address. It sells books, but does it help us?

So ask some of these questions of yourself: Did your relationship start out in a positive way? Did your partner change after you were in a committed situation, where it was difficult to just break things off? Have you held a reasonable hope that things will improve?  Does your situation make you sick, and make you wish for a safer and healthier relationship? Are you putting up with bad treatment for a higher purpose, like trying to make the best home for your children?

If you answer yes to these questions, then you should feel that you are coping with a difficult situation that you did not create. Don't paint yourself with the amorphous label that you're "codependent". Recognize that  although your situation is unhealthy, there may be no simple options to make it better. Just because you're weighing the balance and hanging in there doesn't mean there's something fundamental wrong with you. You may have hard work ahead to make your life better, and you may be facing some difficult choices and changes, but that doesn't make you "codependent."

The truth is that in many cases abusers really do make victims of otherwise innocent people. Their behavior early in the relationship may be wonderful, and it often stays that way until a lasting commitment is made. Then things change for the worse, often dramatically. This "now you see it, now you don't" phenomenon is common with people who have narcissistic defenses, and I talk about this in Meaning from Madness. Once we're married, and even worse have children, there aren't any simple ways to put an end to the abuse, because such major sacrifices must be made to force change. This isn't codependence. It's a painful and difficult situation that we need help to deal with.

Overcome the Love Locking You In
Many of us got into unhealthy situations because our partners held up a facade. Many of us felt or thought that we had met our soul mate; found the perfect partner; met that one special person in the universe. It's no surprise that we can fall in love with someone like this!

Later, usually after we've made a binding commitment like marriage, or sometimes after the relationships changes due to children being born, job changes, or other major life changes, our partner shows a completely different side. The person who was once perfect now can become angry, demeaning, demanding, and harshly critical. I talk about this dynamic in my book on disordered behavior, Meaning from Madness. From someone we have deep feelings for, these actions are brutal. Yet we may still have strong feelings of love pulling us to that person. Talk about being torn!
At some point, many of us realize this situation needs to change, but feelings are not chosen. How can you overcome the love that pulls you to someone who is abusing you?

While you can't turn those feelings off like a switch, you can learn to understand where those feelings come from, and how our minds create them, and then set the stage for new feelings to develop - hopefully toward someone who's better for us. At first this issue was a chapter in my book, Tears and Healing, but it was so important it eventually became its own short book, In Love and Loving It - Or Not!  . The really sad part is that our minds create these feelings so that we'll be motivated to engage in a relationship that meets our emotional needs, yet those same feelings can end up locking us in, pulling back again into a broken relationship that just can't fill those needs! Its like a trap, one that we need new understanding to get out of.

Find the Courage to Leave
As someone who spends a lot of time helping other people, I never presume to judge or tell people what they "should do", "have to" do, or "need" to do. These are individual choices that can only be made by the person who must live them. But when people are ready to make a change, they can often be trapped not just by their love for their hurtful partner, but by fear. Ending major relationships means big changes, changes in where and how we live, what we own, how much money we have, whether we're alone or not. Its natural to be afraid. It's sometimes like leaping off a cliff in the dark.

Fortunately, fear stands on base that is easy to chip away at: ignorance. We are most often afraid because we don't know what will happen. Without any specific thoughts, our minds love to wander off into all kinds of extreme outcomes - things that really just aren't going to happen. So overcoming fear - finding the courage to make changes - is about learning. It can take time, and it does take little bits of courage to ask the questions, but if we chip away at it, we can build a picture or what a new life will be like, and we can fill that picture with facts and not imagined fears. Those facts, and that true vision of what we'll do and what things will be like, undercut the fears and make it possible to face the change.

Stopping the hurt; Healing the Damage -
Dealing with this situation is complex, and people need some idea of "What do I do now that I know this?" For most people, there are important values, beliefs and obligations that have to be carefully thought about. Most people who are asking "Am I codependent?" are in very hurtful situations, and significant decisions have to be faced, then resolved. Tears & Healing holds a light up in this dark place. Written from the inside perspective of someone who has been through the hell of being emotionally and verbally battered by a spouse, this book addresses the major issues that we all must wrestle with.

Tears & Healing begins with the most difficult issue: abusive partners constantly work to distort our perception of what is happening and what is right and wrong, until we doubt our own judgment so much we can't make decisions. It then addresses the process of detaching to find safe space and to regain a sense of right and wrong, and searching to understand what we, as people, need in our lives - needs that often must be simply put aside to survive in these brutal situations. It deals with love, and the conflict of being in love with someone hurtful to us. And it addresses the intense feelings of obligation that many of us have, which keep us locked in situations that are beyond what any person should endure. Tears & Healing is an intensely personal and validating guide through this maze of thoughts and emotions. The reader reviews below can give you some sense of how liberating Tears & Healing has been for many, many people.

As I said already, dealing with feelings of love is a huge barrier for many. My book, In Love and Loving It - Or Not! , addresses these issues. It explains how and why we fall in love; what we can do to get out of love with someone hurtful to us; how we can make choices so we are more likely to fall in love with someone good for us; and how being in love relates to the different, chosen actions of loving. Many of the people I help to deal with their abusive situations need this kind of guidance.
My experience also shows that most of us need a solid understanding of what is going on in our partners. They are usually disordered, and when we can understand what disorder is in play, we can start to understand why they do what they do, and what the prospects are for change. Meaning from Madness explains this.

Are you distracted with the idea that you're "codependent"? Get all three books  - or better yet,  the Relationship Pack - and start dealing with the real issues in your life.

Did you know the books and packages come in softcover, e-book, and the combination quick-pack? You can see all the choices you have on this page.

Why does your partner treat you like that? Get Meaning from Madness and get the explanation for what drives disordered behavior.  (It's in the Relationship Pack and the triple pack.)

Are you sick of being drawn back to someone who hurts you? Would you like to understand how to  enable a healthy, loving relationship in your life?  (It's in the Relationship Pack and the triple pack.)

Have you been reading excerpts for a while? Are you ready to buy Tears & Healing and get serious about change?   (It's in the Relationship Pack and the triple pack.)

One reader: "Thank you so much for sharing your story ... you have helped me to release a lot of stress and tension and I feel I can move on." 
© 2006-2011 Richard Skerritt,  Author and Publisher

Dalkeith Press, Inc. is an independent, direct-to-reader publisher in Kennett Square, PA, USA. Our Site is http://dalkeithpress.com/

(Blog Disclaimer: I do not own anything. All information from e-letters, re-posted here for educational purposes only.)

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