Am I codependent?
Before I start with working through the 12 steps of recovery, I would like to take a look at some of the signs of codependency and hopefully help clarify what codependency is.
The term Codependency originally was used for people who were in a relationship with alcoholics or addicts that showed it’s (codependency) signs. However, even after an alcoholics own recovery, their partners seemed to be unhealed from the stress of dealing with the alcoholism. This spurred the creation of Al-Anon, a 12 step recovery program for spouses and partners of alcoholics. It eventually became clear that codependency was much wider spread, and the cause of many heartaches in relationships, families, and individual lives beyond just substance addictions. Codependency in its basic description is a loss of yourself within a relationship. This relationship could be with a spouse, sibling, friend, children, parents, coworkers, or even something like an addiction itself. That’s right… People with addiction problems can be codependent too. It is also not just limited to one person in the relationship. Both partners can have codependent signs, and can be drowning in self and relationship defeating patterns.
In codependency, we take on responsibility for and try to control outcomes that we have no power over. You may try to “Fix” you partner to make him/her be the way you want. Then become angry and persecute them when they don’t turn out like you wanted, and then become a victim because you feel like you have poured so much of yourself into them and they don’t Liston, didn’t meet your expectations, and maybe even respond to you in anger.
Or else you may also believe you are responsible for the way other people feel. Maybe in your relationship you walk on eggshells and jump through hoops, nearly killing yourself to try and make your partner happy with you. You may be making promises to become someone you’re not, just to try to get someone to accept you and love you. Then, when they don’t respond the way you feel they should have for all your work, you persecute them. You may distance yourself. Withholding your love and affection, or acting out in other ways in an attempt to get them to feel your pain. Then, you too, become the victim. Feeling stressed and anxious over you loss of control, and becoming depressed because you feel unloved.
The Pattern : Fixer – Persecutor – Victim.
This is the controlling and manipulating pattern we live in an attempt to meet our own needs. All the while convincing ourselves we are sacrificing for someone else. It is an attempt to use someone else to fill a void within ourselves. A void left by low self-worth, and low self-esteem. A void we must learn to fill from within ourselves to break free from.
For a good start on understanding codependency, I recommend the book “Codependent No More, How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself” by Melody Beattie.
Codependency and ADHD
You may be wondering what all this has to do with ADHD. The link here, is the emotional aspect of ADHD. People have spent our whole lives trying to “fix” us. This has been really difficult for individual that haven’t received diagnosis until later in life. Years of untreated ADHD, unmet expectations, and feeling like we are not in control of our own lives left us with huge voids of self-esteem. We haven’t learned to accept ourselves, believing that we have to be accepted by others in order to except ourselves. Trying our best to become the person everyone else thinks we should be, instead of becoming the best versions of ourselves. It’s only logical that we would be filling those voids with codependency… with addictions… To people, feelings, drugs, gambling… Anything that for a moment may fill that void.
The 12 Steps of CoDA (Codependents Anonymous) and AA is about learning how to fill that void in healthy ways. It is about learning how to let go of the things you can’t control, and focusing on the things that you really can.
It is about healing and building the most important human relationship you can have. The one with yourself.
For the signs of Codependence, Click Here
My next post on this topic will be on step #1 of the 12 steps and how to apply it with ADHD.
Reference: Codependent No More, by Melody Beattie, Codependency For Dummies, by Darlene Lancer, MFT
- ADD – Working the Program (focusedonadhd.wordpress.com)
- Do You Have a Codependent Personality? (everydayhealth.com)
- The best of ‘what I see’ for 12/17/2012 (toddlohenry.com)
- Most Loving Family I Have Known (goodmorninggratitude.com)
- Juliet Wright – Everything is My Fault – A Journey Through Co-Dependency (onpurposemagazine.com)