If you are here, reading this, you probably are… Sorry not sorry, but before we dive deeper, I want to say congratulations on landing here and on researching more about this condition/addiction/personality disorder…. I would call it a coping mechanism. Being codependent, or a love addict as I like to call it, is nothing but a survival mechanism. Let’s start by looking at what co-dependency is: The fact, that we do not even have a defined way to spell it, shows you how wide this field is and how much more research probably needs to be done. As of now, co-dependency is not a mental health disorder and you know what – it probably doesn’t matter if it ever becomes recognised as one or not. What is important is the fact that you can heal from it.
Many try to avoid this term because it brings discomfort and truly doesn’t feel any good to call yourself “codependent”. If you identify with being a love addict or codependent tendencies, please remember that it is a pattern of yours. It is not who you are. This does not define you! It is a behaviour you have learned (most likely subconsciously) in order to survive in this world and is rooted in the very core need every human being holds within – the need to be loved, valued and to be seen. Even though love addiction is self-destructive and dysfunctional, it is how many of us get those needs met.
Many people who are in codependent dynamics have had a childhood history of abuse, family addiction, neglect or abandonment. This resulted in us not feeling allowed to take up space in this world or have feelings, which resulted in unstable adults holding beliefs like
– I am not good enough
– I am not worthy enough
– I do not trust my instincts so I give my power away
– If someone else treats me badly, it is because I have done something wrong and I need to try harder to win their approval
– I have to make sure everyone and everything is ok, even at the expense of my own sanity, boundaries and safety
– I need to bend and stretch myself in order for my partner to love me
– My needs are not as important as other people’s needs
– Other people’s pain is my problem and mine to fix
– My partner’s happiness is more important than my own
– I am responsible for how others behave, react and feel
A co-dependent person is someone who gives up all his/her needs in order to meet another person’s needs. Co-dependency was firstly discovered amongst people who use substances such as alcohol or drugs, but it is now known that co-dependency is far more common and is found in any form of human relationships. People with co-dependency have an unhealthy relationship with other humans and tend to find their identity and sense of self through another person. A love addict would do anything and give up everything in order to make another person happy.
Codependency is a form of deep self-betrayal and self-abandonment. It is a chase for validation and love via an external source. The result is usually exhaustion, pouring yourself out and becoming resentful, bitter and left feeling alone and unsupported.
In a world of a love addict, chaos and turmoil is the normal and stability is nearly non-existing. Stability might even feel boring and threatening. A love addict is often drawn to “under functioners”, addicts or people who are likely to become dependent on them in some way (financially, emotionally or something else).
So, now that you might have identified with a few of these beliefs and see yourself (at least a little bit) in those patterns, here is how you can fix this issue. It is always advisable to seek professional help (therapist, coach and/ or mentor) in order to create a safe space for your healing journey. Do not be fooled, it is not an overnight fix, there is going to be a lot of trauma work involved, but the first step is to identify yourself as a love addict and see that it is not your identity, you can change. With this intention, I invite you to take on your journey.
Start to learn about your inner child, connect to your younger version, who learned how to have the basic needs met through the coping mechanism of co-dependency. Unlearn the beliefs that are not serving you and start to face the truth:
– I am not responsible for other people’s behaviours or reactions
– Other people are free to have their own experience, and I do not need to change them
– I cannot change other people, I can only change myself
– It is not my job to save people from their pain and feelings
– My worth is not rooted in how much I give
– My needs and my boundaries deserve to be met, honoured and respected
– If someone treats me badly, it is a reflection of their own self-worth and I can remove myself and my energy from their life
– If I really want someone to change or heal, the best thing I can do is to honour myself and set boundaries with them
Healing the co-dependency wound starts by giving all the energy and power you once gave to another person, back to yourself. This simple way of living sounds easy, but for someone who has devoted the majority of his/her life doing differently, it is a huge effort. To break free from the vicious cycle of self-hate and self-betrayal, we must go inwards and build a new relationship with self!
Practical things you can start doing right now:
– Set boundaries and honour them
– Take boundary violations seriously and protect yourself and your energy
– Practice self-care and self-soothing
– Only give when your cup is full and when you feel inspired to do so
– Learn to not take things personally
– Spend time alone
– Start meditating
– Journal your feelings
– Ask for help
– Get yourself into a safe environment and get support in your healing journey. You are not alone
– Validate your emotions
– Build a trusting relationship with yourself and trust your insticts
– Discover your beliefs and rewire them
– Build a healthy relationship with your inner child!