As stated in last month’s article, codependency can be described as the set of thoughts, feelings and behaviors that can be somewhat encompassed as “unhealthy caretaking”.
The codependent like the addict is in denial. They are so enmeshed with the addict’s life and all that it encompasses that they are unable to see the truth because of their love and commitment to help the addict. As difficult as it is for the codependent to see that their behavior is harmful and unhealthy for the addict and themselves, it is imperative. Ultimately, the enabling will actually sabotage the addict because they are spared the logical consequences of their addictive behaviors. Moreover, it is always the consequences that eventually drive someone to recover. As they say in AA, “No one stops because they see the light. They stop because they feel the heat.” People don’t stop drinking or using because they no longer like it. They stop when the consequences outweigh the perceived reward. There are some addicts however that will take much longer in stopping their addiction. They will continue to use despite interventions, losses and consequences. Sobriety is such an individual process which is why each person’s journey may be different and similar depending upon their life’s circumstances.
Thus the addict’s journey impacts the codependent’s journey in getting better or worse. It is so important for the codependent to understand what their needs are in relation to the addict and whether or not they are unhealthy or healthy needs. Once the codependent identifies their role and responsibility with the addict than they can set limits and boundaries and ultimately the goal to detach with love from the addict. The codependent will experience resistance from the addict whom will push limits, manipulate, control and do whatever is necessary to not change the dynamic of their relationship. The addict needs the codependent in order to stay in their addiction.
In order to interrupt this toxic dance, the codependent must seek counseling or a support group to help them understand their thinking process and behaviors and develop healthy coping strategies. The key for the codependent is to accept responsibility for their role in their relationship with addict and define clear limits and boundaries for themselves. This is not an easy task for the codependent because they truly believe on a deep level that they can save the addict if only…… It is very painful to walk away from this illusion and dynamic for fear of losing this relationship. With education and support, the codependent can learn how to change and set healthy appropriate boundaries and eventually accept that they are not responsible for the addict. This awareness is ultimately very liberating and can bring new hope of recovery to the addict.