3 Ways to Escape Codependency
Codependency is common among people who struggle with addiction. A typical situation is where one person is an addict and the other is an enabler. Codependent people often learn as children that they need to be extra helpful and accommodating. Often, one or both parents struggle with addiction and have a codependent relationship themselves.
The child learns that addiction and codependency are normal ways to behave and often falls into similar patterns as an adult. She may habitually find herself in relationships with people who need fixing. She almost always puts other people’s needs ahead of her own. She can never say no and she can rarely ask for what she wants. She may not even know what she wants after years of ignoring her own needs. She may end up with misuse and addiction problems herself.
If you are trapped in codependent behavior, there are ways to escape.
See a therapist. Codependency is tricky for a number of reasons. For one, helping others is a genuine virtue that the world could use more of. The solution to codependency is not ignoring other’s needs but respecting your own as well, but if you’ve spent your whole life oblivious to your own needs, you may have no idea where to start. A therapist can help you figure out what’s important to you and how to balance your needs with those of others.
Second, when you end up in a relationship with someone who needs your help, it feels like that’s genuinely what you want. At the same time, that decision makes you miserable and it’s unhealthy for both partners. Untangling that desire for an unhealthy relationship usually requires some expert guidance.
Honor the new relationship moratorium. If you, yourself, are newly sober, 12-step programs recommend you have at least a year of sobriety before starting a new relationship. There are several reasons for this, but a big one is to keep from falling back into old patterns of codependency. After some time sober and working the steps, many people start to see their negative patterns. Of course, being aware is not enough. You need to develop a strong sober network and good habits of self-care before considering a new relationship. That might take a while, but it’s easier to avoid a new relationship than to get out of a bad one. If you find it hard to avoid getting into a relationship, then codependency is definitely a major concern.
Go to meetings. If you have had addiction issues yourself, be sure to attend meetings and do the steps. If you haven’t had addiction issues but your partners have, consider attending Al-Anon or Nar-Anon meetings. Either way, you will encounter people who have struggled with the same issues. It’s reassuring to know you aren’t alone. What’s more, the group will support you. If you haven’t had much practice articulating your needs and standing up for them, the group can provide moral support. It’s much easier to stand up for yourself when you have backup.
Daylight Recovery Services takes a holistic approach to substance abuse and co-occurring disorder treatment to address the physical, psychological, and spiritual facets of addiction and recovery. We ensure clients emerge from our facility with the proper tools and confidence in their ability to lead a healthy, enjoyable life. If you or someone you love is ready to break free of the bondage of addiction, contact one of our recovery experts today at 1-833-2DAYLIGHT.