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What is codependency?? I only discovered I was codependent last year. It was a huge realisation for me and a big part of my healing journey.
Before I never realised why I found it so hard to have healthy relationships. I knew it was stemmed from my childhood but I didn’t realise what I was going through was a recognised condition.
I’m not the biggest fan of labelling people but I do think they serve a purpose. Just like when I was diagnosed with CPTSD, when I realised I was codependent I felt scared I would be like this for life.
However, with awareness comes change.
So even though I don’t like to label people, recognising you have traits of codependency, like with any other condition, can help guide you to heal and create long-lasting change.
You don’t have to be this way for life!!
So What is Codependency
“Codependent relationships signify a degree of unhealthy clinginess, where one person doesn’t have self-sufficiency or autonomy, one or both parties depend on their loved ones for fulfilment.”Scott Wetzler, PhD
Codependency originally applied to the spouses of alcoholics but you can also learn codependency if you grew up in a dysfunctional family or with narcissistic parents.
My dad is an alcoholic, so it makes complete sense that I’m codependent. I actually remember most of my childhood looking after him and trying to fix him!!
If you are codependent, you become obsessed with the other person in the relationship, enable their bad behaviour and put their needs before yours.
Being codependent, you have a need to make others like you because you have very low self-worth. This means you people please and find it hard to create boundaries.
I actually believed that if I said no to anyone that made me a bad person.
I used to have this obsessive need to fix other people. This is mainly because I chose to be with men who were either addicts or abusive, just like my dad.
It’s extremely hard not to be codependent if you are with an addict. Their need to control, lie and manipulate, makes it hard for you to believe your own reality.
Addiction is very damaging to the people you love, it took me a very long time before I started to believe that I wasn’t going crazy and to trust myself again (I can honestly say that 100% of the time I thought an addict was lying to me, I was right!!)
So even if you had an amazing childhood, if you are with an addict or have been, you most likely to have some codependency traits.
For me, I was needy, I constantly needed approval from others. I put their happiness first and let people treat me how they wanted. The problem with this is it builds up resentment and often this made me a very reactive person.
I didn’t even know boundaries existed, let alone how to have them. I took everything personally when I now know nothing is personal.
My life became about the relationship I was in, there was nothing else that mattered. I look back now and can’t believe how unhealthy that was.
I basically lost myself in my relationship and nothing else matter, especially me.
It took me a long time to heal from that.
When my relationship broke down 18 months ago, there was something in me that stopped me for looking for someone else to fill that void (let me tell ya, that never works).
It was my soul saying “you deserve to heal, you deserve yourself”
So for the first time in my life I stayed single, I am still single and I will be until I know I’ve healed this part of me. Because codependents go from one relationship to the next.
Thinking that will make them whole. Well, it won’t!!
Codependency is very complex and you may have some symptoms and not others. Below are some of the sighs you have codependency traits.
Signs you are Codependent
- The need to take care of others to be liked – people pleaser
- Addicted to drama
- The need for validation from others
- The need to control situations – feeling anxious if things don’t go your way
- Finding it hard to ask for help
- Fealing guilty for others helping you or being sick
- Finding it hard to make decisions
- Finding it hard to trust yourself
- Having poor self-worth – feeling worthless
- Self-critical and having unrealistic expectations for yourself
- The need to fix other people (and not focusing on your own healing)
- Put others needs before your own. Ignoring your own needs
- Find it hard to create boundaries – can’t say no to others
- Reactive – taking everything personally
- Becoming obsessive with the other person or relationship
- Your happiness is determined on the other person, their mood or how they are with you
- Fear of abandonment and rejection
- Being hypervigilance or paranoid
- Fear of intimacy and communication
- Staying in toxic relationships
- Enabling addictions and other destructive behaviours
- Blaming yourself for other peoples behaviours (I must have done something to cause this)
If you are reading this and feeling bad if you have any of these traits, don’t!!!
It’s not your fault if you do!!
These traits are created in childhood to adapt to abuse and neglect. It’s a kind of survival mode that we go into.
So if you think you are codependent, please don’t beat yourself up and know that you CAN change!!
I hope this helps and over the coming months, I’ll be sharing things that have helped me change my own codependency traits. You can read my post about letting go of the addiction to drama HERE.