49. SEX AND ADDICTIONS: Are You In A Co-Dependant Relationship? If So Why?
a) Google describes co-dependency as ‘a disorder that was first identified about ten years ago as the result of years of studying interpersonal relationships in families of alcoholics.
b) Originally, co-dependency was a term used to describe partners in chemical dependency, persons living with, or in a relationship with an addicted person.
c) Today, however, the term has broadened to describe any co-dependent person from any dysfunctional family or relationship:
Over many years of observing clients, I noticed one issue that would loom its ugly head time and time again. It was self-worth.
Self-worth usually goes hand-in-hand with low self-confidence and low self-esteem. Consequently, many land up accepting second best and this then usually gets reflected not only in the relationships people choose, but also in the career or jobs people get lumbered with.
Unfortunately, not everyone understands the root cause or just how complex their self-worth issues really are. And by now you will have gathered that most self-worth issues stem from various childhood experiences as discussed in my blogs.
3. Codependent Relationships.
In the case of codependent relationships, self-worth was often the most important feature.
As a result of having a low self-worth or low self-esteem, codependents often present a total disregard of their own needs in favour of their partner’s every whim, desire or demand.
By constantly focusing one’s attention fully on another, means that having any life outside the relationship, becomes restricted and in many cases non-existent.
Many reported an absolute loss of self and that all their needs got shunted and shoved aside so that the focus could be exclusively on the emotionally needy partner.
Choosing a codependent relationship is however, a comfortable choice for many. And the need to feel needed over-rides all good boundaries and all good sense.
Taken to the extreme, I often saw how some people, more unconsciously than consciously, would even search out a partner requiring emotional parenting or mothering.
For example, some may like to ‘mother’ whereas others need ‘mothering’. Some like to ‘mother’ in order to feel needed and those who need ‘mothering’, may attract a ‘mother figure’.
The need to play mummy, may at first help someone feel better about themselves – except that we know that by putting others first we are teaching them that we come second.
This way a symbiotic or mutually beneficial relationship develops.
For those who don’t particularly feel good about themselves, are not able to really develop a life of their own, for those who may have learnt via their families of origin or even at school, that they were not deserving of much no matter what they did or achieved – they may therefore find solace in a relationship where they can feel needed and possibly even loved.
And also they may need people to provide them with excitement and a life. A life that they themselves may feel unable to achieve.
Yet in time what this does, is it creates an emotional reliance or dependency between two people.
Unfortunately, this usually results in one or both partners being taken for granted, stepped on and even abused.
But how does this occur?
Birds of a feather flock together and we attract what we know and what is safe. So if we feel bad about ourselves we may find others who feel a similar lack. And in due course a collusive system may develop.
Relationships can be about emotional complicity. It can be about two people conspiring either consciously or unconsciously to heal something from their past.
Sometimes however, the collusion isn’t always emotionally healthy.
Sometimes the collusion can lock two people into a system that getting out of – can be very hard to achieve, especially if the couple share many similar childhood experiences. Or indeed similar emotions too.
This connection can emotionally bind a couple together, even though, how each individual acts out their individual needs, may differ. In other words what they both feel, can erupt differently, and also at different times – depending on the situation.
This is why often the couple develops a coping strategy which tries to keep everything feeling normal – yet scratch the surface and everything falls apart, into a chaotic mess.
Because co-dependants tend to attract people with addictive behavioural tendencies too.
Addictive behaviour can include extremely neediness, jealousy, emotionally abusiveness or even physically violence. And a partner can be addicted to various substances, like alcohol or drugs, or they may gamble, and so on.
And any mothering can lead to compulsive and defeating care-taking. It could lead to taking on the role of a martyr and covering for a partner’s addictions or they may have to make excuses to hide the problems and so on.
But investing oneself entirely on someone else or even an addiction – has its rewards. It underlines that the couple members are not worthy of more – more attention, more love and so on.
And the more someone feels bad about themselves, the more bewitched and enthralled they may become with their partner and their behaviour.
Unfortunately, many also choose partners who will remind them daily that they are worthless and don’t deserve any better, that they are to blame and that everything is their fault.
Co-dependancy becomes less about the need to be loved, and more about the inability to love oneself – and this creates the dysfunction between two people.
It is the ability to find a relationship that obliterates who you are – as you focus on the emotional needs and problems of others.
It is the obsession with others and their issues to the exclusion of the self.
As a result, many report that even though they may seek out codependent relationships during the relationship much shame, guilt, fear and pain is suffered. Often many of these emotions are ignored and obliterated.
Many couples find it hard to acknowledge or confront the problem – because they have learnt to suppress their emotions and many believe that they are actually not worth more.
Consequently, many just detach themselves emotionally – so they learn to just survive. Or they wait for that one moment when they might feel needed again.
And so the cycle continues.
4. Finding Help.
If you are locked into this codependency system of self-belief please do not suffer in silence
There are many support networks either in your area or even on the Internet.
You are not alone. Codependency is far more common than you may think.
Please find help. Please speak out. You do not have to live with an abusive partner – ever.
But be careful. Get advice. Find out what your best options are before you leave. Leaving an abusive and needy partner can be dangerous and you may need support to do so.
Take courage and please find help.
Codependency often stems from a lack of self-worth that usually develops in early childhood.
It is a symbiotic bond that two people more unconsciously than consciously ‘agree to’: To live a life to please everyone else, but by doing this, you will continue to feel frustrated and powerless. This is because what others want – may not actually be good for you. Because when we cripple others we land up crippling ourselves.
It is therefore wise to know this: By putting others first you are teaching them that you come second.
6. But You Can Learn That You Come First.
You CAN learn that it is emotionally a lot healthier for you to come first:
You can do this by developing a relationship with yourself (via the many therapies available, even yoga, that helps focus the mind to listen). This will help you create better boundaries and as a result you will develop a trust and an inner knowing as you begin to honour your own needs. This will help you develop self-worth and self-belief.
Because you ARE worth more.
© 2017 Information Copyright Deidré Wallace
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