We are codependent because we allow the behavior of another person to effect our behavior so that we become consumed with that person and their problems. This obsession with the issues and problems of others becomes debilitating to us as we exhaust inordinate and inappropriate amounts of mental and emotional energy over them, leaving little, if any, energy for ourselves.
Often our childhood was so chaotic and our environments were so out of control, we learned ways to escape to try to find serenity. As we grew into adulthood, we worked hard at trying to control our external environment, believing it was the key to our happiness and inner peace. Our family of origin was frequently dysfunctional. Sometimes we even blamed ourselves for our parent’s problems. If we were terrorized by a volatile alcoholic parent, anger became an unacceptable and unwelcomed guest in our lives. Anger was to be avoided at all costs. As a result, we learned to appease; we learned to rescue.
We learned to be aware of others’ feelings in order to protect ourselves and began to lose touch with our own feelings. We made ourselves responsible for the happiness of others, and when they weren’t happy, neither were we.
We are extremely loyal but also extremely insecure. Self-doubt is our constant companion, and often self-hatred. Being unacceptable to ourselves, we hide our true selves, convinced that if anyone truly knew us, they would abandon us. This fear of abandonment often fuels our codependent behavior as we seek to do everything in our power to become so valuable that others would not want to leave us. By choice, our lives are not our own and our emotions are the property of whatever crisis the person(s) closest to us is having.
We don’t have to live this way! We do have a choice. We can live free of these obligatory compulsions. Through God’s help we can learn to take responsibility for our own lives and allow others to take responsibility for theirs.
With Jesus Christ as our Higher Power we learn how to apply the 8 Recovery Principles and 12 Steps, designed to guide us through the journey we call “Recovery.” If we are diligent to provide willingness, integrity, consistency and rigorous honesty, God will supply us with courage, strength and the ability to take the necessary steps to gain freedom from our compulsive behaviors.
In the context of caring and loving relationships, we learn to recognize our dependence upon God. We are then able to take a penetrating look at ourselves, and inventory both our own and other’s contributions to our lives which have brought us to where we are today. As our defects of character are unearthed, we are able to come clean to ourselves, to God and to safe people.
When our secrets cease our freedom will increase. God provides us with tools and a will to do what we once thought impossible. We begin to see relationships restored, old animosities put to rest and lives pieced back together. We learn to take daily inventory that we might continue to walk in truth, light and freedom. Most importantly, we can draw closer to God than ever before. We are being used by Him to share our lives and God’s miracles with others that they might experience the hope and healing that we have experienced.