By Randy Moraitis, MA, BCPC, CPC
Have you heard the joke, “A codependent is a person who, when they die, someone else’s life flashes before their eyes?”
That joke is really an unfortunate sign of the times and indicative of just how widespread codependency is.
So exactly what is a codependent? Melody Beattie, a leading expert and author on the subject of codependency, offers up this definition:
“A codependent person is one who has let another person’s behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior. Codependency involves a habitual system of thinking, feeling, and behaving toward ourselves and others that causes us pain.”
Causes of Codependency
The roots of codependency can often be found in one’s family of origin. If a family is dysfunctional, a child may grow up to be codependent. Physical, sexual, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual abuse can all lead to the abused person becoming codependent.
With the proliferation of addiction to drugs and alcohol in our society, a byproduct is that we see an increase in those who struggle with codependency.
Five Core Symptoms of Codependency
1. Difficulty experiencing appropriate levels of self-esteem.
2. Difficulty setting healthy, functional boundaries.
3. Difficulty owning one’s personal reality: body, thoughts, feelings, behavior.
4. Difficulty acknowledging and meeting one’s own needs, wants, and being
5. Difficulty experiencing and moderately expressing reality.
Moving Toward Recovery and Away from Codependency
There is hope for the codependent! By learning to detach from the person who is the focus of codependency one can begin to be set free and start living their own life. It is important for the person struggling with codependency to learn to love themselves, find their purpose in life and learn the art of acceptance.
If you or someone you know struggles with any of the above five core symptoms, please consider taking the following steps to begin the healing process:
1. Attend a CoDa (Codependents Anonymous) support group www.coda.org.
2. See a counselor or therapist to work on pain from your past.
3. Work with a recovery coach who can help you get unstuck and have a healthy