The post I wrote for YourTango.com, "10 Signs You're in a Codependent Relationship" has been shared a bunch, and many of the comments are the same:
"Crap. That's me. Now what?"
It's easy to dismiss the label of "codependent" — A) because it's often misunderstood or misused, B) because no one likes to be put into a category, and C) it's easier to put on blinders and ignore our issues.
Yet when you see the signs written in black-and-white, it's hard to ignore. Do you recognize any of these?
1. You do things for your partner that he can and should be doing for himself.
2. You can't help but worry about your partner — where he is, what he's doing, what he's thinking, what's wrong with him. The worrying eats you alive. More often than not, you're worrying about things that you have absolutely no control over.
3. Your partner's mood affects your day.
4. You've allowed irresponsible, hurtful behavior into your relationship.
5. You let your partner have his way, and then feel overwhelmed with anger and resentment. ("Look at all I do for you!"..."How dare you do this to me again!"..."I knew this would happen!")
The thing with codependency is that it's SO COMMON, and often a major source of unhappiness and unhealthiness in not only our relationships, but our lives.
I understand that wave of exhaustion you might be feeling, just thinking about tackling these issues head-on. Not only is it overwhelming and unappealing to look at ourselves this closely, but addressing our codependency can be a direct threat to our relationship. If we get healthy — emotionally and mentally healthy — will we realize that our marriage needs to go?
But I can tell you, without a shred of doubt, that if there's something about your relationship that you want changed, the only thing you can change is yourself. And really digging into the patterns and symptoms of codependency can dramatically improve things about yourself that hold you back — like anger, fear, control, anxiety, and perfectionism.
There's no need to be embarrassed for identifying with codependency; it's not your fault. This is how you were programmed — how SO MANY OF US were programmed — but there's a healthier way to live. And it really doesn't have to be that overwhelming. Researching the topic and being aware of your issues is step #1, which you can do with a book or a therapist.
Don't get me wrong. Just because I read a few books, researched a few experts, and started a therapy program doesn't mean that I'm cured — not even a little. Codependency is something I'll have to work on for years, maybe even for the rest of my life. But that's okay. Because recovering from codependency gives me a potential for happiness that I never had before, and a way of understanding and loving myself from a different perspective.
Recovering from codependency has been the most illuminating and important turning point in my life.
Perhaps you'll feel the same.