Codependent...now what?

  • 13 Replies
  • 615 Views
*

Matteblak

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • 66
Codependent...now what?
« on: December 28, 2020, 01:28:56 PM »
I've been a believer for about 4 years, and started to notice the FOG about the same time. Until then I tried EVERYTHING to make things better. I believe my wife is uNPD, but I am learning that I have likely been (for much of my life) codependent. I am fairly sure that my mother was abusive, but I am blessed and cursed to forget abuse fairly quickly (which means I keep being hopeful and getting punched in the face by it at home).

As I look at codependency, which stems from low self esteem (or self-love deficit as some call it), I don't know how to think rightly about myself. I don't stand up for myself at home, and I don't set boundaries well, I don't say no out of fear of her reaction, I try to control everything to minimize abuse, but that doesn't help, and I don't know how to stop. I have been in Christian counseling for about 10 months, and will have first appointment tomorrow since determining that I might be codependent. I will try to update in the hopes that it will help others.

I was relieved at hearing his assessment, because it lets me know that I'm not crazy (meaning I HAVE been experiencing abuse), but also embarrassed. Knowing that so much of what has been going on is the result of my unhelpful responses/reactions makes me want to blame myself for the abuse or worse, excuse it altogether. Anyone else been through this? I'm gathering resources from Christian sites and reading some secular books to understand my "diagnosis" and how it impacts those around me.

*

SparkStillLit

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • 1133
Re: Codependent...now what?
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2020, 08:35:43 PM »
I just want you to know, I'm following along because there are a few of you on here, very faithful, that are really inspirational to me. My faith has been shaken by this long long road, and among other things, you inspirational ones are helping me find it back.
So carry on, don't mind me, lurking in the background.

*

Free2Bme

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • 565
Re: Codependent...now what?
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2020, 10:56:23 PM »
Matteblak,

I really understand about it being embarrassing, I have felt this way too.  I know I have dependency issues, it's easy to equate this with weakness.  I try not to look at it that way.   You are not weak, the fact that you are facing it shows you are strong.

People develop coping mechanisms to deal with life circumstances.  You likely developed these habits from your FOO and collective life experiences, that goes with living in a fallen world.  These behaviors might have been useful at some point in your life for survival (physical, emotional, mental), but then become a hinderance later on (like outdated software). 

When I can identify a particular way I have of dealing with something and evaluated it objectively, I find that that way of thinking/acting/responding is not useful anymore and has become counterproductive to me or my loved ones.  But I have to remove self-judgement, accept that I am imperfect , and instead harness that energy and use it to replace the behavior with a better/different one. 

I used to try to control EVERYTHING to minimize pain/abuse of me/children, a lie I told myself to cope.  It might work for a moment, but never for the long run, I was just buying what I thought was a moment of peace.  I would inevitably spend that precious moment anticipating the next episode.  It was too scary to face that I really could not stop this person from abusing me/children.  Admitting that I had no control was scarier than trying to control and failing. 

You have the ability to be introspective, learn, and develop better ways of dealing with your situation.  Don't waste precious time/energy looking back (should've, could've, would've) and beating yourself up.  What matters is what you do from this time forward, today is a new day,  and...   "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."   Lamentations 3:22

Matteblak, you have crossed the Rubicon. What you now see you cannot 'unsee', you can only go forward and upward.

I would like to suggest a book entitled "The Search for Significance" by McGee.  It was recommended to me by my T 25 years ago.  It is vetted and a fabulous primer on our true value, can't recommend it enough.  (workbook version is best)

Also, Leslie Vernick's "The Emotionally Destructive Marriage".  If I'm not mistaken, she had an abusive mother (an amazing story).

~hang in there and keep posting

*

Matteblak

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • 66
Re: Codependent...now what?
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2020, 02:27:55 PM »
I just want you to know, I'm following along because there are a few of you on here, very faithful, that are really inspirational to me. My faith has been shaken by this long long road, and among other things, you inspirational ones are helping me find it back.
So carry on, don't mind me, lurking in the background.

thank you. As a believer, I can find encouragement in the fact that God DOES work all things for good, and that my trials, even my sinful responses along the way, may be of benefit to others.

*

Bloomie

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • 13958
Re: Codependent...now what?
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2020, 12:59:52 PM »
Matteblak - I will come back with some resources when I can get back here in the next few days, but one of the most important things I have done in my own life is recovery work around the issue of Co-dependency.

Much of how I viewed 'my part' in relationships was informed through a distorted lens of what it truly means to love others as myself and walk in humility, peace, and service to others as I follow hard after the things of God.

I had to look at the life of Jesus and really examine how he loved and walked amongst us. And it was with strong boundaries without apology and with priorities beyond pleasing and getting along with others and avoiding another's displeasure firmly in place. Authentic, honest, and true.

A quick and profound understanding that I came to about Co-Dependent behaviors through study and mentoring is that they are at the opposite end of the spectrum of unhealthy living from those with addictions or personality disorders.

In other words, coda behaviors are unhealthy and... controlling and manipulative. Now that understanding rocked me back on my heels and brought swift repentance and humility and a deep desire to grow and learn and live with authenticity and genuine love for others.

When we avoid saying 'no' or fawn to please someone and avoid problems and pain, when we allow another to take advantage of us and use us, or try and manage their behaviors through our own we are being untrue to ourselves and disrespecting others.

I developed these particular skills to survive and out of trauma and it is understandable to a point and even helpful until I was old enough to protect and defend myself and provide for myself. But, when I became a full fledged adult and was continuing those behaviors it made it very hard to even have a strong sense of who I was and what did and did not work in my life.

I know many sources say the coda behaviors are based in a low sense of self and I am not arguing that, but for me it really was a toxic combo of what I was taught to believe was spiritually required of me by people whose best interests were served if I didn't develop limits and being faced with high conflict and imminent physical abuse where I developed this coping behavior.

As an adult my life became pretty intolerable because coda behaviors will never give us peace within ourselves and in our relationships. I had long outgrown the need for that kind of protection in my head, but my heart didn't know it yet or trust the future without the very behaviors that were holding me back and promising to bring more of the same from abusive people and systems.

I also came to see that living with this lens of codependency kept healthy and loving people away and drew unhealthy and exploitive people to me. And, that makes sense now that I have a bit of distance from it and have continued to put away those behaviors.

"When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became grown, I put away childish things." 1 Corinthians 13:11

« Last Edit: December 31, 2020, 01:01:48 PM by Bloomie »

*

Free2Bme

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • 565
Re: Codependent...now what?
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2021, 01:37:26 PM »
Thank you Bloomie  :hug:

*

ChillNow

  • New Member
  • *
  • 26
Re: Codependent...now what?
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2021, 02:11:19 AM »
Dear Matteblak, thank you for sharing your story, which resonated with me. 

A book that has been helpful in my journey is ‘Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissist – how to end the drama and get on with life’ by Margalis Fjelstad.  How I wish I had read page 74 about ‘Fear of Anger’ years earlier.  May I also recommend page 146. 

Also, the following give Christian-based marriage advice:  Leslie Vernick, Gary Thomas and Henry Cloud.  Listening to each of them may challenge you to examine previously-held assumptions and perspectives.

I wish you peace and healing.

*

Matteblak

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • 66
Re: Codependent...now what?
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2021, 03:31:27 PM »
Thank you all for your insights and suggestions. Things are very weird right now. It's one of those calm periods where it feels normal-ish because, for the time being, all the frustrations are all with people outside the house (doctors, church, family out to ruin her life, etc...).

These are the times that mess me up because I relax a bit, start second guessing myself, forgetting all the things that have happened in the past, start thinking maybe it WAS me (I've started making some small changes, and speaking up a little more since learning I have codependent tendencies...what if I was the problem all along?).

The mind scramble of it all is the hardest part. I cannot even enjoy this lull because I dread what is coming. Just venting.

*

Mary

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 227
Re: Codependent...now what?
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2021, 02:21:38 AM »
Mulling this over...pretty sure I have this issue too. It's really hard to come to terms with having done the self-sacrificing things and now to realize it didnt help and that's not what God was expecting of me.
For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called. (Isaiah 54:5)

*

Matteblak

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • 66
Re: Codependent...now what?
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2021, 07:20:35 AM »
Mulling this over...pretty sure I have this issue too. It's really hard to come to terms with having done the self-sacrificing things and now to realize it didnt help and that's not what God was expecting of me.

Hi mary. It was hard for me too because I realize a lot of what I thought was sacrificial love was actually unhealthy coping on my part. I’m left to do the hard work of repentance without changing or letting go of all the things I was doing. The sin was not in the behaviors but in my heart while doing them.

Learning a lot about myself lately, and prayer has been amazing during this time. Lots of weeping and then peace as He shows me His willingness to forgive. Sanctification is hard, that’s why many people stay as they are or walk away.

I’m reading “codependent no more” by Beattie and that has helped me to confront my part in it all. Her theology is a bit wonky in places so read with an open bible, but it challenges me to really examine my heart and to communicate more clearly, regardless of the outcome.

Hope this helps, praying for you.

*

Bloomie

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • 13958
Re: Codependent...now what?
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2021, 12:50:47 PM »
Matteblack - you bring up such an important sticking point in my own learning curve of what it means to love others as well as ourselves. When there is hyper vigilance in the relationship - a waiting for the other shoe to drop - in my own case, the relationship had become predicated on an out of balance and mistaken understanding of what it actually is to love another as well as myself.

This is a link to a thread with an article that I found so helpful and a discussion how we love like Jesus did. He never allowed anything or anyone to come between Him and His purpose. Even people with some pretty big issues. Even people He loved enough to die for.

https://www.outofthefog.net/forum/index.php?topic=86099.0

Another really helpful read is: Boundaries in Marriage by Cloud and Townsend.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2021, 06:33:46 PM by Bloomie »

*

Matteblak

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • 66
Re: Codependent...now what?
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2021, 02:58:39 PM »
I just want you to know, I'm following along because there are a few of you on here, very faithful, that are really inspirational to me. My faith has been shaken by this long long road, and among other things, you inspirational ones are helping me find it back.
So carry on, don't mind me, lurking in the background.

For some reason this post stays in my head, and I come back to it. It was actually my wife's behavior that led me to the Lord. I had made an idol of her, and He was quite tired of my lukewarm-ness. Understanding that He has placed me where he has, led me to parts of the Bible that I rarely hear people talking about nowadays (Hebrews 11:36-38; 1 Peter 3:17; Philippians 1:29; James 1:2-4), but are critical to me as I remember what Jesus did for me. I hate that I resent Him for it at times. I just want Him to tell me it's gonna be okay and that there is a silver lining HERE rather than in eternity. Please know that you have been an encouragement to me and I'm sure many others. I am praying for you. Be strong. Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).

And just in case you're in this mood: Romans 12:19-20 "Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written: “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”

*

SparkStillLit

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • 1133
Re: Codependent...now what?
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2021, 04:48:47 PM »
Bless your beautiful heart. The Lord knows just what I needed to hear.

*

Mary

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 227
Re: Codependent...now what?
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2021, 02:43:10 AM »

[/quote]
Understanding that He has placed me where he has, led me to parts of the Bible that I rarely hear people talking about nowadays (Hebrews 11:36-38; 1 Peter 3:17; Philippians 1:29; James 1:2-4), but are critical to me as I remember what Jesus did for me. I hate that I resent Him for it at times. I just want Him to tell me it's gonna be okay and that there is a silver lining HERE rather than in eternity. Please know that you have been an encouragement to me and I'm sure many others. I am praying for you. Be strong. Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).

And just in case you're in this mood: Romans 12:19-20 "Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written: “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
[/quote]

Thank you for these verses. Such marching orders!
I think that I Peter 3:17 is particularly germane to this thread. "For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing."
It's going to be hard whether we exhibit co-dependent behaviors, or stand firm and set healthy boundaries.  So let us commit to well doing (even though for me it feels so wrong and backward and convoluted to take a stand and say "no" because I get blamed for "tearing us apart").
Mary
For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called. (Isaiah 54:5)