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#66085 - 05/08/03 03:36 PM Codependence?
SandyW Offline
Member

Registered: 02/25/03
Posts: 86
Loc: NJ
Its been a particularly tough month. So much has gone wrong. I broke down in tears the other night because I am overwhelmed, and harmonal and pregnant. My husband asked what was wrong and I told him that I just feel so helpless because there is nothing I can do and it hurts to watch him suffer. He accused me of being codependent and I think either his T or his AA sponser has him believing this. He accused me of trying to fix him, and I asked how but he couldn't offer up any specifics. I told him that I really don't want to fix him because I wouldn't even know where to start and it would just frustrate me, and that I just wish these problems (as immature as this sounds) didn't exist at all. So what exactly is codependence? I looked around on the internet but some of the symptoms they list are obvious givens if you are the spouse of an alcoholic or addict (you are concerned with other peoples problems, distrust, hypervigilance). If your spouse is suffering, shouldn't you be concerned? Is anyone stupid enough to trust someone with a drug or alcohol problem? After going through the cycle so many times is there anyone not hypersensitive to its nuances? This is so confusing!

Sandy


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#66086 - 05/08/03 03:46 PM Re: Codependence?
teimosa Offline
Member

Registered: 04/07/03
Posts: 33
Loc: LA
Hello Sandy,

Sorry that you are not feeling so well. If you are looking for some information on Co-Depedency, you could check out the coda.org site. THere is information and literature there that might be of help to you. They also have meetins, kinda like AA.

Teimosa

_________________________
Peace and Blessings...love and light

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#66087 - 05/08/03 03:58 PM Re: Codependence?
Janis Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/31/03
Posts: 7
Loc: Northeast USA
Dear Sandy,
Try to get your hands on a copy of Melody Beattie's book "Codependent No More" and when you read it substitute the words "victim of CSA" everytime she says "alcoholic." Everytime she says "drinking"...you say "behavior." This might help you. Pay particular attention to her definition of a codependent:

A codependent person is one who has let another person's behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person's behavior.

The question about how can you not be affected by your spouse's behavior, worry, and possibly even care too much is answered in the fifth chapter called DETACHMENT.
This is the first step to the spouses healing...and the toughest.

Jan

_________________________
Jan

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#66088 - 05/08/03 04:11 PM Re: Codependence?
SandyW Offline
Member

Registered: 02/25/03
Posts: 86
Loc: NJ
Isn't his behavior affecting me a natural consequence of his actions? Would it be "normal" to not care about your husband? I can't help but think that this is unreasonable. I don't find myself obsessing about this, and I (and other close friends of both of us) find my concerns to be valid and realistic. I've done nothing to control his behavior and realize that he is completely, and solely responsible for his own actions. The problem I have with her definition is "let another person's behavior affect him or her". Isn't this obvious that how you react to people will affect the way they react to you? Isn't this basic human nature, not some sort of disorder?


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#66089 - 05/08/03 05:19 PM Re: Codependence?
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
Sandy: I too went through this stage with my SA partner. He got on the "codependent" bandwagon at one point and got a copy of the Melody Beattie book, and then suddenly EVERYTHING I did was "codependent". Because, depending on how you look at it, you could call just about every behaviour in reaction to someone else's beahviour "codependent".

There are some critical reviews by counsellors and PhD's regarding the whole codependent movement online. I'll try to dig some up and post the URLs.

In the meantime, the whole issue of codependency in our relationship was one giant fight that took up MONTHS of time. I started to see codependency as one big continuum. From your postings and discussion in this thread I see the same logic/discussions that we had.

If you care to read - here are my two cents worth and my experiences: (I am not an expert, just someone who has been there)...


At one end you have true "pathological codependents" out there - people who do lose their own sense of selves and really cannot cope and spend their entire time trying to fix the other person instead of focussing on themselves and what they can do. In these people, they do do exhibit some pretty pathological behaviour - i.e believing they are nobody without the other person, that they gain their self worth because of their connections to someone else, that they will deny everything they value to "please" someone else, etc. They have an excessive need to please, be loved, prevent abandonment, etc. Often a result of various types of abuse.

Then there is the other extreme, where people do not interact at all and exist in two completely separate spheres, one not having an influence on the other, kind of like roommates that work opposite shifts.

In the middle there is lots of room for interpretation and that is also where healthy relationships sit. If someone you care about does something hurtful or harmful, by just being human, you will feel sad, or possibly angry. Unless you are a robot or someone with some emotional/feeling/empathy problems, you should and WILL care about the hurts and troubles of someone else's that you care for. And you WILL react if you get in a fight and some hurtful things are said. And I truly believe that it is a noble thing to want to please your partner (within reason) and to try and help someone you care about get through a tough time (again, within reason).

I think the codependency sets in when you focus a lot of your own energy on trying to FIX that person, and you personally start to suffer consequences from it (i.e. you spend all day on the phone trying to fix your partner and you get fired, or you are starting to have anxiety problems because you are living someone's problems vicariously, etc).

In my learning about codependency it is very hard to find one completely accepted definition of codependency and in my relationship in particular, the concept was used pretty hurtfully as a "smoke screen" for my BF to continue denying his responsibility to clean up his rotten acting-out behaviour. It took a lot to convince him that his inability-to handle-anger-resulting-in-horrific-verbal abuse was taking its toll on me and our relationship, and that HE had some responsibilty here, and that it wasn't 100% me being a codependent by being upset by him calling me every name in the book for WHATEVER reason he could come up with at the time.


Just be careful with this whole issue - when tempers are flaring up and you are feeling emotional and he is feeling vulnerable - if your relationship is like mine then you may fall into a "recurrent fight" on this for awhile. If it becomes a problem you may wish to employ the services of a "neutral third party" (couples' counsellor) to help you sort out who's responsibility is who's. We were both guilty in this disagreement. It was strongly suggested that we do our own individual therapy as a means to address this ongoing "codependency" argument. My BF has just started an anger management group therapy to deal with his outbursts and I agreed to go to hypnotherapy to address my own abuse and anxiety issues that led to some less than healthy responses to his abuse.

Good luck.

Soccer


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#66090 - 05/08/03 05:30 PM Re: Codependence?
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Quote:
the concept was used pretty hurtfully as a "smoke screen" for my BF to continue denying his responsibility
Sometimes I'd use any dirty trick to divert attention from my responsibilities.
I might just have needed a breathing space but was too scared to ask.
I didn't trust myself with what I was doing to myself sometimes so I created a diversion.

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#66091 - 05/09/03 09:26 PM Re: Codependence?
Janis Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/31/03
Posts: 7
Loc: Northeast USA
Dear Soccer,

Your thoughtful insights about this whole co-dependency topic are very much appreciated. While this exact subject has not been broached between my husband and I, I've given the topic some thought and have found that being introduced to the ideas promoted by Beattie in her book, particularly in relation to "characteristics of co-dependents," have given me plenty of food for thought about how it is that I'm in my current situation and what I've done to contribute to or further confuse an already complex situation. I'm no way implying that the partner is responsible for the original abuse but I do believe that the current "state" of my own relationship with my husband is influenced by my characteristics. I love her comment about how "co-dependency may be a normal reaction to an abnormal situation." Co-dependency can be a severely limiting and debilitating disease. But you're are right...somewhere in the middle of being disabled on the one end of the spectrum and unaffected on the other is where most of us sit. Looking at where it is we sit can teach us a lot about making the changes that may be helpful.

_________________________
Jan

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#66092 - 05/09/03 10:02 PM Re: Codependence?
The Dean Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 2080
Loc: Milwaukee, WI
Co-dependency may well be a problem you struggle with. At the same time I very much encourage you to look up the nearest Al-Anon group and go to as many meetings as you can from a while.

Bob

_________________________
If we do not live what we believe, then we will begin to believe what we live.

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#66093 - 05/12/03 10:32 AM Re: Codependence?
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
Another point of view on codependency:

http://www.habitsmart.com/cdpnt.htm

FYI I dont mean my posts to be belittling of the concept of codependency. I do think that it learning from it and undergoing therapy for it is definitely of benefit to those who are affected by codep. behaviour, and I will admit that at certain times and in certain situations I too exhibit codep. behaviour. However I have seen it misused and interpreted so many different ways I just wanted to post another point of view to this discussion.

Soccer


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#66094 - 05/12/03 12:29 PM Re: Codependence?
SandyW Offline
Member

Registered: 02/25/03
Posts: 86
Loc: NJ
***trigger - may be triggering to those dealing with codependent issues***


First I want to say that this post is not intended to offend anyone with a differing opinion or someone who may be struggling with codependency issues.

Soccer,

I can agree with you that the concept of codependency seems to be misused. I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. I think its safe to say that most people exhibit codependent behavior from time to time, even when the other person is not an addict.

So the concept of codependency is exactly that; a concept. So maybe labling it helps people in hopeless situations "feel better about themselves", but at what cost? People, by very nature, aren't meant to be "detached". Some of the Webster definitions of detach are (1) separated, disunited, disjoined and (2) not involved by emotions, interests, etc.; aloof; impartial.

I'm no expert here, but common sense tells you that detaching is not going to save your marriage. Okay, marriage is a union between two people, so go and apply something for which the definition is "disunited". Yeah that will work.

Codependence seems to be contradicting of itself. Codependence is agreed to be enabling regardless of your viewpoint. The very same people that say no one causes the addict to be an addict (i.e. its not your fault) say that being codependent "enables" them to continue to be addicts (i.e. it is your fault now). This doesn't make sense!

I'm sure there are some that cross the line over healthy caring and really enable distructive behavior. But I think the indicator here is whether its a knee-jerk reaction or a way of life.

Another problem I have with this is that supposedly AA and like programs endorse the concept that the addict/alcoholic is responsible for his/her own behavior. If the alledged codependent behavior of their spouse/parter/parent/etc. is "enabling" them to continue then isn't this pushing off some of the accountability? Is the addict/alcoholic in turn also codependent because he is allowing him/herself to be enabled? Is it coincidence that counterpart programs such as Alanon push the codependence concept?

Again, just my opinion and not meant to offend. I'm just struggling to reconcile this concept.

Sandy


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