If you are having trouble with a codependent relationship, there is hope for you. Codependency is a complicated disorder that tends to drain one person in an unbalanced relationship. It is usually because one person holds more power in the relationship, and the codependent person doesn’t stand up for themselves against unfair power struggles. Since it’s such a complicated relationship problem, it’s wise to talk with a caring Christian counselor who can help you heal from Codependency.
Not quite sure if you are codependent? These questions can help you decide if you need to seek help for this common relationship problem.
1. Do you often make significant sacrifices to meet your partner’s demands or needs, and do you feel like these sacrifices define your purpose?
2. Do you have a hard time saying no to people, especially when they make demands of you?
3. Do you have a habit of covering up for your loved one’s addictions or criminal behavior?
4. Is one person’s opinion of you a constant source of worry?
5. Would you say that you feel trapped in any of your relationships?
6. Do you tend to brush things under the rug or avoid arguments, even about significant struggles?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may need help overcoming codependency. As your counselor I want to help you break free from the oppressive feelings you are experiencing. Together, we can also create new boundaries to protect your self-worth.
You may be wondering why being codependent is considered a negative thing. People who are codependent tend to love helping others. They are often the kindest, most generous, most unselfish people in a group.
These are good traits that the Bible tells us to pursue. If you are a follower of Christ, you probably feel that you are doing the “Christian” thing by helping out your loved one and sticking with them through thick and thin.
However, these types of caring individuals may also allow people to disrespect their boundaries. They sacrifice their personal well-being and freedom for someone else’s benefit. Sometimes, this is a noble act. If it becomes a regular pattern in a relationship, it’s a strong sign that Codependency is present.
God has given each of us a very precious gift of freedom. You can choose to either protect and preserve that gift with healthy boundaries or give it away to someone who takes advantage of you. By preserving the freedom that Jesus secured for you, as described in Galatians 5, you can live the life of abundance that God wants you to have.
The Roots of Codependency
As newborn babies, we are all completely dependent on our parents or guardians for nourishment, care, and safety. Infants attach to their caregivers within the first days of birth. This attachment is essential for proper physical and emotional growth. Without this basic dependency, none of us would thrive.
It is not uncommon for some people to grow up with parents or guardians who were not consistent or trustworthy when it came to meeting their needs. If you grew up in a home with a parent who was physically or emotionally unavailable, you did not learn the normal bonding process. This is a dysfunctional scenario, in which a child suppresses his or her needs to focus on the parent’s needs. If you formed this habit as a child, you are set up to be a caretaker as an adult.
There are many unhealthy individuals looking for people to take care of their needs so they don’t have to take care of their own. You may have naturally gravitated toward someone like this due to a dysfunctional childhood.
However, this type of relationship isn’t sustainable, because your unmet needs will keep crying out. If you have ever suddenly lashed out or overreacted at your loved one, it may be a sign that your needs aren’t being met in a codependent relationship.
As a child, you may have felt like your world was chaotic. You may have felt a loss of control so you searched for external ways to control your world. If your parents, caregivers, teachers or coaches praised you for your methods of control, those behaviors were reinforced.
They may now be playing out in your relationship. Often, codependent people attempt to control their loved ones, because it provides a sense of validation for you. However, as your loved one resists these efforts, you may feel useless and become depressed.
These are common threads for most codependents. As your counselor, I want to assist you in exploring your early childhood memories and experiences to unpack dysfunctional behaviors. As you process those unmet needs and repressed feelings, you can find freedom from the burdens you’ve experienced for years. Your counselor will guide you in forming healthy relationship patterns so you are less likely to fall into Codependency again.
Signs of Codependency
Check yourself for any of these signs of a codependent relationship. If even one of them apply to you, it’s important that you get counseling to be free from the problems.
- Enabling a loved one’s irresponsibility, immaturity, underperformance, or addiction
- Relying on a loved one’s approval and affection
- Feeling a sense of identity only in relation to your loved one
- Meeting your loved one’s needs while not acknowledging your own
- Feeling anxious when separated from your loved one
- Constricting your emotions in relation to your loved one
- Feeling depressed and hopeless about your relationship
- Using perfectionistic means or manipulation to control your loved one
If your loved one has Borderline Personality Disorder or Narcissistic Personality Disorder, you may be enmeshed with them as a caretaker. You may gain a sense of worth by being the “responsible one” in this type of relationship. Many people in codependent relationships have been or are now victims of recurring physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse.
Codependency creates a great deal of stress. To decrease the level of conflict, you may employ methods such as people-pleasing. However, this is a boundary problem which greatly costs you. You may find yourself overreacting to disagreements and slights.
You may feel a strong urge to fix your loved one, even though your loved one rejects your advice. If you are codependent, you may not feel comfortable freely expressing your emotions, just in case they cause conflict. It may be easier for you to obsess about your loved one’s feelings than manage your own.
Though you may be aware that your relationship is troubled, you need your loved one in order to feel okay about yourself. Codependency causes unhealthy needs for relationship, making it difficult for you to end one even if it is abusive. You may keep complaining about your loved one’s problems without realizing you have the power to change yourself.
Sometimes you may escape into fantasies about an ideal situation to cope with your stress. You may experience stress-related illnesses, such as immune system disruptions, as a result of your relationship problems. Many codependents use substances like alcohol or drugs to deal with relationship stress. You may also develop an eating disorder or become a workaholic in an attempt to control your situation.
Codependency often leads to feelings of low self-esteem. You may be more likely to stay in stressful or low-paying job situations and you may be less likely to seek medical attention for your own needs. This stress can lead to feelings of shame, anger, hopelessness, depression or numbness. That’s why it’s important to seek counseling if you think you may have Codependency.
Treatment for Codependency
You can get help for Codependency through Christian counseling. Since your behavior patterns are deeply ingrained, I can help you reroute them into healthier behaviors. We will build a stronger sense of self and help you develop assertiveness skills together.
You can learn to speak up for yourself, express negative feelings, and rehearse assertive conversations. At Seattle Christian Counseling, we can help you find freedom from Codependency. Contact us today to learn more about the treatments that are beneficial for you.
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