It’s 5:00AM and I have been up for an hour.  So I’m reading:  “Codependent No More,” by Melody Beattie.  If you are in the Codependent world, you know the name.  I’m on chapter two, and it has me thinking.

The more I read about codependency (“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 more I think of my ex husband.  He is not at alcoholic nor is he a drug addict.  But he does have some obsessive behaviors and he does require a certain level of … compliance … from the people close to him.  I found being in a relationship with him more difficult than I could bear in part due to certain requirements of that relationship.  At some point you just had to agree with him on things or he’d talk you in circles for hours until you did.  And you had to go along with certain routines because breaking them would send him into a fury.  After awhile, I learned to agree early on in the conversation, or to supress my own desires if they threatened to break the routine…this to avoid the inevitable hurtful outburst that would follow.

I was codependent in that relationship because I was changing my behavior in order to control his behavior.  I get that.  I see it in my children and I wonder how to address that with young people.  Their dad loves them and doesn’t have a definable addiction that I’m aware of.  And perhaps they are codependent in response to me.  I wonder.

I’ve also begun thinking back to my father, who has always been a drinker, more and moreso as the years went on.  But he was never mean.  He would always get either silly or deep, and he’d always tell you how much he loved you and how guilty he felt for not being good enough.  In response, I spent much time insisting that he hadn’t done anything to feel guilty for, telling him I loved him, and insisting to myself that I could love anyone despite their behaviors…  codependency.  It’s a vague concept that clearly is part of my makeup. 

The book says that codependents have trouble acting on their own behalf because they spend most of their time reacting.  I cannot count the times I have started projects or wanted to act on ideas, made brief projects, and ended them saying, “I just couldn’t carry it through.  It’s so hard to keep my focus while (X and I are arguing…the kids are having problems…work is requiring…etc.)”  

Just some early morning thoughts.  Codependent no more.  Sounds nice…

3 responses to “Codependency

  1. Thanks for this, Kay. I need to read about co-dependence. It’s a term/behavior that I’ve never considered in regards to myself. With your above summary, I’m now wondering if my primary relationships with my parents were codependent. I was always careful not to trigger my mom and to please my dad. This has to carry over in to subsequent relationships, by replicating the dynamic in some way. Co-dependent No More will be my next read. Thanks. Peggy

  2. Peg, Please try this book. From what you’ve said, yes, i think it will be relevant to you. Plus, there are questions at the end of each chapter. I was considering journaling about those questions here. i’ve been gone just because I needed a break from focusing on this aspect of life — but I think that’s a good sign. Will check your blog today. Let me know what you think of the book.

  3. You are doing well, Peggy, and you are opening your eyes. Denial can be so subtle, especially when it has woven itself into your childhood, throughout your marriage and then, witnessing the effects on your children. Progress not perfection.

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