Working through my co-dependency

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Spirit in the sky

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Working through my co-dependency
« on: March 26, 2019, 03:38:06 PM »
I realised a while ago I was co-dependent. As a child with an alcoholic father and emotionally unstable mother I unknowingly became co-dependent. When I met my husband I was so used to their behaviour it didnít seem strange for me to get involved with someone else with an addiction problem. I thought I could save him and have spent 18 years in another co-dependent relationship.

I lost all sense of myself, I was still self sacrificing with my parents as well as people pleasing everyone I met and trying to rescue my husband. I felt empty and invisible and couldnít understand why no one seen the damage their were doing to me. Thankfully my husband recovered from his addiction but I still felt like I was walking on eggshells around him. Then I noticed I was doing the same thing with his narcissist mother.

To cut a long story short I have lived all my life to please other people, to the point I didnít actually know how to be happy without making others happy first. I started trying to stand up for myself but when I didnít get a good reaction I very quickly resorted back to people pleasing. Everything got too much for earlier this year and I realised I needed to do something for myself and stop expecting other people to change.

It hasnít been easy, I started gradually with my husband and although he was moody and grumpy he got over it. Iím making progress with my parents. One of the hardest things was standing up for myself with my narcissist boss, I have been grey walling her. Sheís not happy and sulks a lot but Iím learning to not be effected by her moods.

The trickiest one is my NMIL, she has a way of making me feel worthless if I donít Ďdo as Iím toldí. Iím working on detaching myself from her drama but sheís determined to punish me for standing up for myself.

Iím reading Co-dependency No More by Melody Beattie. Itís not an easy read when you realise you have been living a lie all your life and end up feeling angry and resentful, but Iím learning itís better to be honest rather than nice all the time.

Iím a work in progress but I have identified my issues, Iím accepting I have a problem and Iím taking positive steps to find my authentic self .

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coyote

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Re: Working through my co-dependency
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2019, 04:53:15 PM »
Good for you Spirit,
We all have our issues and challenges we are working on. Admitting them and starting to move forward is the first step IMO. Keep it up!
How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.
 Wayne Dyer

The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Do you understand?
Capt. Jack Sparrow

Choose not to be harmed and you wonít feel harmed. Donít feel harmed and you havenít been. -Marcus Aurelius

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GentleSoul

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Re: Working through my co-dependency
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2019, 03:48:29 AM »
Many thanks for your share, Spirit in the Sky.

I could have written exactly the same about me.  Same background. Alcoholic/PD mum and dad. I thought the behaviours around me were normal.  Married to alcoholic.  Tried to "save" him, thought that's what partners were meant to do.    I am on my third long term relationship playing that same role! 

I want this to be the last.

I also had no idea who I was and what I liked or was interested in. 

So glad you are here and sharing about your journey.

I have a copy of Co-dependent No More that I keep picking up and putting down.  It feels very uncomfortable to read it, yet read it I must.  Shine a light on my behaviours so I can discard and replace them. 


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Spirit in the sky

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Re: Working through my co-dependency
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2019, 05:10:46 AM »
Thanks Gentle Soul,

Iíve known something wasnít right for years. I actually canít believe I had the courage to leave my first husband. I also married him to rescue him, I didnít love him, I donít even think I liked him but everyone else thought he was a safe choice.

When I got divorced I was 28 years old, I had no clue who I was. I fell for my current husband a few days after I left my first. He wasnít a safe choice, he was a bad boy. I was rebelling, I got swept up in his good looks, rock and roll lifestyle ( he was a musician) he drank, he did drugs and he treated me dirt.

I was in therapy because I didnít know how to be on my own, when he didnít want me I went into fits of depression. I didnít eat, I slept and I waited for the phone to ring. This went on for a year, I suspected he was seeing other women and I was right. I didnít have the courage to face him and leave so I made myself unattractive. He was very shallow, looks were everything to him, how I dressed, I was like a fashion accessory. Eventually he left me.

I was relieved and devastated, of course I was still madly in love with him. I threw myself into my work and had a few inappropriate flings. I hated him and I still loved him. After a year he contacted me and begged me to take him back, heíd stopped the drugs and drink. I agreed because I could see he had changed some of his ways. I was feeling more confident and set some boundaries.

Weíve been together 18 years now, and apart from the usual ups and downs we have very happy. Deep down I think we are soul mates and he does tell me I rescued him. I think I took this literally and decided I needed to keep rescuing him. I thought I needed to protect him from his narcissist mother.

They have always fought and disagreed, because of my childhood I kept trying to keep the peace. I really didnít need me to fight his corner but she would drag me into the rows and Iíd manipulate him to keep her happy. Everyone seemed so enmeshed in each otherís lives.

My husband can be moody and I always thought it was my fault. Iíd done something to annoy him and I needed to fix it, for a while I was afraid I would drive him away again. Eventually I found enough confidence to realise it didnít matter if he was grumpy, I could walk away and if he didnít get an attention heíd get over it.

My mother in law has been my biggest hurdle. If she doesnít get her own way she screams, swears, threatens and makes everyoneís life a misery. If we ignore she gets worse. Sheís so used to other people giving in and rewarding her bad behaviour she canít cope with us distancing ourselves from the drama. Itís like sheís self destructing and Iím watching it happen. The old me would be jumping through hoops to rescue her but I realise the only person who can save her is herself.

Learning to sit back and focus on myself isnít comfortable but it is getting easier.

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GentleSoul

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Re: Working through my co-dependency
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2019, 12:52:58 PM »
Glad you are expressing yourself and processing all this.  Again so much in your share I relate to.

A particular poignant part if you not even liking your first husband.  I have done that, dated men that I didn't even like!  It felt normal to me to not really like my partners. 

So very sad.

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logistics

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Re: Working through my co-dependency
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2019, 09:47:27 AM »
Thank you for your share. You sound like me. Alcoholic dad mentally unstable mom and husband I have learned that I don't love him. What has worked for you to gain the distance?

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xredshoesx

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Re: Working through my co-dependency
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2019, 11:51:15 AM »
i struggled with codependency as well and a lot of what you all are saying really resonates with me. i was able to move on from my ex and used this site and another group to get over trying to save a friend who was toxic,  my final hurdle was to cut the cord with my job, which i had made my replacement 'project to fix'. 

when i was single it was soooooo easy to put everything into my profession, getting married made me refocus on my priorities and i had to retrain myself to say no to commitments that took too much time away from my family outside the workplace.

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Spirit in the sky

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Re: Working through my co-dependency
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2019, 03:17:50 PM »
Thank you for your share. You sound like me. Alcoholic dad mentally unstable mom and husband I have learned that I don't love him. What has worked for you to gain the distance?

I donít think I have really gained much distance but I have a clearer idea of where I need to be. Itís very difficult at the minute because both my parents are ill. I tried not to get involved but things with my dad got worse and I had to have him admitted to hospital. My mum is having surgery next week so Iím taking a week off work to look after her.

What I am trying to do is support their physical needs and detach emotionally. They both refuse to take responsibility for their own actions, and they are so enmeshed in each otherís problems no one actually acts like an adult. So once again I have to step up and sort of the mess.

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bohemian butterfly

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Re: Working through my co-dependency
« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2019, 05:46:32 PM »
Thanks Gentle Soul,

Iíve known something wasnít right for years. I actually canít believe I had the courage to leave my first husband. I also married him to rescue him, I didnít love him, I donít even think I liked him but everyone else thought he was a safe choice.

When I got divorced I was 28 years old, I had no clue who I was. I fell for my current husband a few days after I left my first. He wasnít a safe choice, he was a bad boy. I was rebelling, I got swept up in his good looks, rock and roll lifestyle ( he was a musician) he drank, he did drugs and he treated me dirt.

I was in therapy because I didnít know how to be on my own, when he didnít want me I went into fits of depression. I didnít eat, I slept and I waited for the phone to ring. This went on for a year, I suspected he was seeing other women and I was right. I didnít have the courage to face him and leave so I made myself unattractive. He was very shallow, looks were everything to him, how I dressed, I was like a fashion accessory. Eventually he left me.

I was relieved and devastated, of course I was still madly in love with him. I threw myself into my work and had a few inappropriate flings. I hated him and I still loved him. After a year he contacted me and begged me to take him back, heíd stopped the drugs and drink. I agreed because I could see he had changed some of his ways. I was feeling more confident and set some boundaries.

Weíve been together 18 years now, and apart from the usual ups and downs we have very happy. Deep down I think we are soul mates and he does tell me I rescued him. I think I took this literally and decided I needed to keep rescuing him. I thought I needed to protect him from his narcissist mother.

They have always fought and disagreed, because of my childhood I kept trying to keep the peace. I really didnít need me to fight his corner but she would drag me into the rows and Iíd manipulate him to keep her happy. Everyone seemed so enmeshed in each otherís lives.

My husband can be moody and I always thought it was my fault. Iíd done something to annoy him and I needed to fix it, for a while I was afraid I would drive him away again. Eventually I found enough confidence to realise it didnít matter if he was grumpy, I could walk away and if he didnít get an attention heíd get over it.

My mother in law has been my biggest hurdle. If she doesnít get her own way she screams, swears, threatens and makes everyoneís life a misery. If we ignore she gets worse. Sheís so used to other people giving in and rewarding her bad behaviour she canít cope with us distancing ourselves from the drama. Itís like sheís self destructing and Iím watching it happen. The old me would be jumping through hoops to rescue her but I realise the only person who can save her is herself.

Learning to sit back and focus on myself isnít comfortable but it is getting easier.

Thank you for sharing your story and I am so very sorry for your pain.  I completely understand the struggle with codependency  (I come from a similar background, alcoholic father, codependent uBPD mother).  I also went from one relationship to the next and although I thought I was going to be OK as long as I avoided marrying an alcoholic, what I didn't understand is that I still gravitated to what I knew.... so I found men to bond with that had other addictions  (drug addicts, workaholics, sex addicts). 

I have just started reading Lisa A Romano's book, "Codependent, Now What?"

Just wanted to thank you for sharing.  You are not alone.

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rubixcube

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Re: Working through my co-dependency
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2019, 05:17:14 PM »
Awesome, Spirit!

I'm right there with you. I'm a 40 yr old now and I'm just realizing that I have codependent traits and a flight/fawn response to CPTSD flashbacks(Read Pete Walker's CPTSD book). Oh and I married the female version of my narc dad. Great! :(
The fawn term is people pleasing. It's how we learned to stay out of conflict. It wipes us out in the end and isn't sustainable.

My wife views me as a tyrant for even saying things like, "I don't want to do that". It becomes a deep personal ATTACK to her. It really stinks. We're not allowed to be individuals outside of enmeshment.

Go you! It's hard as hell, but change is happening. There's hope.

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treesgrowslowly

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Re: Working through my co-dependency
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2019, 09:03:18 PM »
Hi rubix,

I like your post here. Codependency does wipe us out. I'm battling burnout and having been the people pleaser my entire life, my burnout has resulted in being alone to face each day. I am so angry with people for taking all the 'pleasing' and then abandoning me.

Pete Walker's book is great. I think codependency or self love deficit, is hard to deal with. It doesn't feel like there is a post-codependent life. I feel like its groundhog day, the self does not change very easily.

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FreekMagnet

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Re: Working through my co-dependency
« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2019, 03:33:00 AM »
Hello everyone,

I am glad there is still talk about the issue of codependency. There are 12 step groups around (CODA in the U.S),  though not as big as it was some years ago. Al-Anon is still going pretty strong.

I have Melody Beattie's first 2 books (read one, still haven't gotten through the 2nd), I might have to look up the others that were mentioned here.

I found myself helping out a friend this week, and it was fine, but the dysfunction in her home is something else. I didn't want to get sucked in further. I think of other people I have known who I wanted to help, and there is part of me that is like, yes I made the right decision in not helping, and other parts that say, no you shouldn't have tried to protect yourself, you should have helped.

As for what I have done for my mother and for my spouse, I probably didn't handle it right, but live and learn. I hate that feeling of you give and give and it's never enough. They sabotage your efforts or you realize you forgot to check this or that first. Ugh. Well, my mother is gone now; just have to work on my relationship with the spouse.






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rubixcube

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Re: Working through my co-dependency
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2019, 02:23:49 PM »
treesgrowslowly,

I find the internal tug-of-war game is in trying to overpower my learned sense of guilt and disappointment. The guilt makes me want to people please. I don't want to people please, so I'm trying to erect boundaries and practice assertiveness so I can feel comfortable doing #1 what I want to do, and #2 NOT doing what other people want me to do. I'm trying to consciously choose when I want to help someone, and if I sense I'm helping out of my own imaginary guilt then I try to force myself not to do it. I try not to caretake.

I"m definitely burnttttt out some days. Many days. It's a war. Win some lose some; ain't over til I'm dead.

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treesgrowslowly

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Re: Working through my co-dependency
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2019, 05:41:40 PM »
Rubix, I like the direct way you phrase things!

Its been about a year now of not jumping to help people with their requests ie run errands or help them move etc. I hate that it does seem true that even non PDs, if you are helpful too early in the friendship forming phase, then they just cast you as their helper and they don't want a friendship with me. It's screwed up but it seems true for most of the people I ran myself ragged for.

Even in social settings like at a dinner, I used to help the conversation along. Without even realizing how draining that is. I've gotten much better recently at being quiet instead of helping a social exchange go smoothly. I bet each of us who gets to burnout has our own list of the things we did that we didnt realize were draining us.

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rubixcube

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Re: Working through my co-dependency
« Reply #14 on: June 07, 2019, 11:16:15 AM »
Even in social settings like at a dinner, I used to help the conversation along. Without even realizing how draining that is. I've gotten much better recently at being quiet instead of helping a social exchange go smoothly.

Bingo! I too have recognized this as a major source of guilt. I put the guilt on myself. I think it's the "I need you to feel good so I can feel good" rescuer/codependent trait. I too am trying to be more quiet and let other people be responsible for carrying the conversation. I start feeling awkward/guilty/uncomfortable when there is a silence.

Related, I have a narc dad who in the past would guilt trip me for not calling/keeping in touch. When I look back on my life I was the one who carried the relationship. I was his supply in this context. Now, I've stopped reaching out. Guess what.... He doesn't call either. No surprise there. In my grieving the past I'm losing patience for non-reciprocal relationships. Some I'm committed to/obligated to be in, but the others I can do without.

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treesgrowslowly

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Re: Working through my co-dependency
« Reply #15 on: June 09, 2019, 12:24:36 PM »
Right? Two things came to mind when I read your reply.

One, some people will think on "keeping a conversation going smoothly" its a small thing, doesnt really affect anything. I think it changes a lot! It's basically the way that being codependent affects new friendships from the start.

Second, yes! Your explanation of how your N dad could so easily talk about a problem (him wanting more calls from you) as being your problem for you to solve, is gaslighting (isn't it all)... Ns can't solve any of the problems (that they create). They look to their children to solve all the problems. For them. All the time.

I have some people in my life who insist that I manage the friendship with them. If they can't take responsibility for half the relationship....then it's not really a friendship. They don't see themselves as half of the problem and half of the solution. Which isn't my problem! 

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rubixcube

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Re: Working through my co-dependency
« Reply #16 on: June 14, 2019, 04:59:34 PM »
I have some people in my life who insist that I manage the friendship with them. If they can't take responsibility for half the relationship....then it's not really a friendship.

Yes! I'm starting to filter relationships through this metric as well!

And yeah, carrying a conversation is probably EXACTLY how the narcs picked us codependents out to begin with. It's shows so obviously what we're willing to do to make sure "if you're happy, I'm feel happy"

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TurkeyGirl

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Re: Working through my co-dependency
« Reply #17 on: July 30, 2019, 10:03:19 AM »
Reading along here, just realising I'm suffering from major co-dependency.

I have some people in my life who insist that I manage the friendship with them. If they can't take responsibility for half the relationship....then it's not really a friendship. They don't see themselves as half of the problem and half of the solution. Which isn't my problem!

I do this with all my friends. Probably because I've always done it. I'm trying to break the pattern, but the feelings of FOG and pain are so hard to deal with. Thanks so much for your wise insights, it helps a lot.

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Cascade

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Re: Working through my co-dependency
« Reply #18 on: August 09, 2019, 01:54:26 PM »
I read the Codependency No More book and I didn't see myself as being co-dependent but I try so hard to keep the peace with people I wonder if maybe I over-looked something. Is being a peace keeper or peace faker as some people call it a sign of being co-dependent?

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rubixcube

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Re: Working through my co-dependency
« Reply #19 on: August 23, 2019, 05:56:07 PM »
I read the Codependency No More book and I didn't see myself as being co-dependent but I try so hard to keep the peace with people I wonder if maybe I over-looked something. Is being a peace keeper or peace faker as some people call it a sign of being co-dependent?

I found that I can pinpoint codependency in myself when I look at my people pleasing. To sum it up, I feel like this: "I need you to feel ok, so I can feel ok; so I can feel safe."

I had the same experience with Melody's book. On first read I thought it didn't really fit me, but then I learned a lot more about codependency, saw a lot of that in myself, then returned to her book with different eyes and saw myself in a lot of the examples. I don't fit all of them, they can be pretty broad in that book, but if I'm honest with myself, I see I fit a lot.

Codependent traits I can recognize in myself:
  • people pleaser/class clown
  • need to make sure everyone around me is happy or else it triggers an emotional flashback
  • very shame and guilt based drivers inside myself.
  • I'm narcissist bait, and attract them.
  • I over extend myself by helping people too much (because of guilt - afraid to say no)
  • I'm afraid to say no ;)

There are many more, some new and some derived from the above.
In my case, seeing those behaviors in myself as regular patterns of behavior is enough to convince me that I became a codependent from early childhood trauma (CPTSD), and from current retraumatization. That's, in my opinion, the real starting point.

First I had to recognize that my uPD wife was really uPD(coming Out of the FOG), then I began to wonder how I attracted someone like that, someone so dysfunctional. Then I began to look at my childhood and see that it was actually pretty traumatic, and full of narcissistic emotional/verbal/physical abuse instead of it being just "not that bad."

Looking at myself first now, giving my own healing 51% of my emotional energy instead of giving it to my wife and her issues has helped me do my own inner child, trauma memory, and FOO work. This work is slowly generating in me self compassion from a state of developing gratitude. This self compassion is slowly increasing my self love(Ross Rosenberg calls codependency self love deficit disorder), I'm seeing myself as separate from my emotional flashbacks and shame/guilt(these are just parts of my psyche), and healthy boundaries are effortlessly emerging from this new definition of who I am.

In all, I'm becoming healthier and less dysfunctional myself. Realizing I was actually codependent made all the difference in the world.