It’s one of those mornings (nights for me, as I just got off work) that I just start typing and we’ll see where we end up. I’ve been learning a lot about the importance of getting to know myself. Of embracing the truth that I’m an individual, unique from every other individual in the world. And because of this, the way I will talk, act, think, believe, and live will be unique from everyone else…my life will begin to take on it’s own flavor, but only if I let it…only if I get to know the Katy that is real…that already exists, but has been stuffed, hidden, and suffocated from years of crap. Let’s see if I can expand on this.
In the past months, I’ve started to see many unhealthy ways I’ve lived my life…my entire life. Counselors would use the word “codependency” to explain the way I’ve lived. Maybe I’ll first explain what my current understanding is of codependency. (hopefully in a way that makes sense to you) The classic example of a codependent is the immediate family member of an alcoholic. Because the alcoholic is choosing to live an unhealthy life, it makes it impossible for the family unit to function in a healthy way. Think of it like this. If your knee is injured, this is going to keep your entire body from functioning at full capacity. There’s no way around it, much like the family with the alcoholic.
As a result, the other family members find ways to try and compensate for the ways the alcoholic “shakes up” the family. The ways a codependent works to compensate may easily fool outsiders, but they are nothing more than a temporary fix, dealing only with surface issues, while the real problem is only getting worse. So going back to the knee. Often a person with knee problems will try and compensate for the pain by putting more weight on other joints. Or maybe they take loads and loads of aspirin for the pain. This seemingly helps, but both strategies are only worsening the problem. The knee is continuing to get worse, and often other joints, such as the hips become injured in the process.
A spouse taking total control and doing all of the housework, childcare, etc. is one way a codependent may try to make up for the lack of responsibility of the alcoholic. Often the entire family learns to live in denial, never speaking of the problems at home. “If the problems aren’t spoken of, then they don’t exist,” is the mentality. Maybe the parent of an alcoholic is still treating their 50-year-old son as though he were 10. These are just some classic examples of how codependency can look.
It’s now understood that anyone can develop codependent behavior. For example, children with unmet emotional needs or victims of active or passive abuse have more than likely developed unhealthy ways of living. What is passive abuse? Children living with parents who are chronically depressed or a parent who is excessively legalistic or ritualistic, rather than filled with love, grace, and acceptance. (according to Dr. Robert Hemfelt in “Love is a Choice”) How might these codependents lives’ look? I think I write more on that another time, but maybe you can imagine a bit… If a child’s parents are very rigid and have little room for grace, they will learn to think that “if I do this…mommy will love me, ” so then when something bad happens, the child learns to think it’s their fault.
Just imagine how this type of thinking will totally control and mess a person up…and this type of living doesn’t work! It’s unhealthy and codependent. It is haunting and has life-long effects on the child, affecting how they relate to all people. It easily leads to eventual mental illness, addiction, self-harm, etc. (see the circle?!)
I’d love to know what this means to you?
I’ll share how learning some of this has shed light on my own life and unhealthy tendencies. God has opened my eyes to see the dark places in my life I never knew existed, but it’s what is bringing real healing so I can become whole and finally live. Because knowing this stuff is great, but it does nothing until it causes us to look inward and begin the journey of recovery, if it’s what we need and are ready for.
But first, let me know what you think. And happy Friday.