Codependency refers to people in a close relationship with someone who is engaged in self-destructive behavior (including addiction). The codependent person is typically overly involved or absorbed with meeting the needs of others to the exclusion and detriment of his/her own needs.
While the codependent person acts as a caretaker and invests in the well-being of the other person, this can result in enabling behavior. This is when the codependent person unintentionally helps the other person continue their self-destructive behavior by repeatedly protecting the other person from experiencing the natural consequences of their actions by doing things like: lying to cover up for them, making excuses for them, paying their debts, or taking over his/her responsibilities to excess. While this helps the other person to get by in the short-run, it ultimately allows the cycle of self-destruction to perpetuate.
Symptoms of codependency include controlling behavior, distrust, perfectionism, avoidance of feelings, problems with intimacy, excessive caretaking, hyper vigilance or physical illness related to stress. Codependency is often accompanied by depression, as the co-dependent person succumbs to feelings of frustration or sadness over his/her inability to improve the situation.
Codependency is a learned response in attempt to survive in an emotionally painful and stressful environment. These behaviors are passed on from generation to generation whether alcoholism is present or not.
Although the codependent person suffers as a result of the other person's choices and behavior, it can be very difficult to break the pattern. Individual and couples therapy can help to put a stop to this vicious cycle of self-destruction and codependency.
To get the help you deserve contact Eva Van Prooyen, MFT at (805) 845-4960.
Eva Van Prooyen, MFT