Codependency - What is it?

Do you sabotage your own life? Could it be that you are codependent and have not even heard of it before let alone recognise it? Codependency is a self-destroying cruel way of handling feelings and emotions. The good news is, it can be fixed. Perhaps you may have some of these thoughts “What’s wrong with me?” “I feel like I’m going mad” “Why is life so painful for me?”

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What are the worst things about feeling down, depressed, and upset?

Certain people despite their best efforts find life does not provide the happiness and loving relationships they would hope for. One failed relationship after another, dissatisfaction at work, turmoil at home, loneliness, or permanent exhaustion from caring for others all the time, are all common feelings for many.

People often overreact to everyday occurrences and have feelings that are magnified often in an emotional state of fear anger or pain. Even those in a “good” relationship with a successful job and a supportive family can feel deep unhappiness or depression and not understand why.

“I had everything I could want but inside I felt so empty and guilty all the time I wanted to enjoy my life but I couldn’t.”

“I feel so anxious all the time; I want so much to live life to the full and join in but I can’t relax. I worry so much about what other people are thinking.” 

Those who are suffering and despair about their lives, who struggle to find meaningful relationships, who feel afraid and unappreciated may have symptoms of Codependency. It is a destructive condition; a person with Codependency adopts certain attitudes and ways of thinking and consequently behaves in ways that sabotage their life and cause deep unhappiness; usually without knowing what they are doing wrong.

A person who is codependent believes that the problems in their lives and their discontent are due to other people - partner, family, or friends or their life situation; also it is up to them to sort it out make those around them happy. They try to control others and circumstances in the hope that if they change those around them, it will make them happier.

“If only my Boss was more understanding I could enjoy my job, I have to make him appreciate me more.”
"I know my life would be so much happier if my husband didn’t drink so much, it’s up to me to make him stop.”

“I feel so empty and alone because there is no one special in my life, I must find a partner or I’m lost.” 

Although there is some truth in these beliefs, a codependent places the entire blame outside of them and is not able to find their own self-worth and inner happiness. As such they are dependent on “external” responses and recognition, to make things right. Codependents long for peace and happiness. Sadly their compulsivity and obsession with others, does not allow them to realize their potential and places them in an extremely vulnerable position with often devastating consequences.

Codependency is an addiction

Codependency is an addiction it is difficult to stop and also to accept, Just as an alcoholic may struggle to accept that drink is causing problems in their life, a codependent can find it difficult to recognise destructive behaviours in themselves. As the turmoil in their lives increases, they will avoid or control others or bury themselves in work and escape through alcohol or food, rather than confront the problem and seek help.  

Characteristics of Codependency

There are many characteristics of Codependency, and it is a difficult condition to define. There tend to be two main types both with the common aim of trying to control the people around them to provide their happiness. These types conform; they fit in, give up their wishes and needs and ignore their feelings in an attempt to be well thought of. They dedicate their lives to the well-being of others at the cost of their own lives. They hunger for approval, and take on the role of “nice guy” or “willing helper”.

In relationships, they will always oblige and often accept sex as a substitute for love. The suppression of their feelings can cause deep resentment and bottled pain that finally makes the codependent despair and want to give up they will become depressed and sometimes suicidal. “I can’t go on anymore I have given everything and I am so unhappy” These types believe that they know the answers to other people’s problems! Their way is the only way. They organize control and often try to manipulate others to behave in a certain way. They convince them how to feel and how to respond. 

A deep fear of being abandoned or not liked causes the codependent to dominate family and friends; this gives them a feeling of power and control and lessens their fear. Again they do not generate their own happiness and when relationships fail they are left devastated and deeply alone.

 “I have devoted myself to her for 5 years I have done everything for her and she has walked out without a backward look.”

The Way to Recovery

The way to recovery is to understand and recognise the symptoms of codependence and begin to acknowledge the harmful behaviours have caused the sufferer. In recovery, a codependent can discover that happiness does not rest entirely outside oneself, but in self-acceptance and in finding peace within.

Codependents anonymous, Coda, is a programme of recovery from codependence and its destructive effects. A group meets weekly in strict confidence with the common aim of solving their problems of codependence and learning to form healthy relationships with others and themselves. Coda provides hope for a new life, free from loneliness and pain by applying the principles found in coda you discover freedom from obsession with others and gain control of your own life. 

“Friends kept telling me to look after myself, but I didn’t know how. All I could do was worry about everyone else and their feelings. I believed happiness belonged to other people. Coda has taught me self-respect and how to care for myself. I feel so much better.”

“Without Coda, I don’t think I would be here. I was desperate I had tried everything but still felt a failure, it was all my fault. Through attending Coda meetings I discovered an inner strength, with the support of the group I learned to accept myself and was no longer controlled by my fears.” 

We can help

We are more than happy to answer any concerns you may have in complete confidentiality, you can simply contact Life Clinic by phone on the numbers below:

Call Cliff Le Clercq M.B.S.C.H. on 01534 888456
International prefix. + 44 1534 888456

Or, you can send us a message by filling in the form on our contact page.

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