Codependency is something we all experience to a degree. But some of us are more attached to its dysfunctional patterns, becoming ‘relationship addicts’ when our codependency makes our lives unmanageable.
Here’s a paragraph from the CoDA website describing in a nutshell what codependency means.
What is Co-Dependency?
“We came to accept our inability to maintain healthy and nurturing relationships with ourselves and others. We began to recognise that the cause lay in long-standing destructive patterns of living. We have found these patterns to fall into five major categories: denial, low self-esteem, compliance, control and avoidance.”
They’ve got an extensive tick list on the site that helps newcomers identify whether they exhibit any co-dependent patterns or characteristics. A lot of these resonated with me, too many to mention. Here are a few; low self-esteem, not feeling good enough, prioritising others, denying my own feelings and looking to others for a sense of safety. One that was really poignant for me was, ‘I give up my truth to gain the approval of others or to avoid change’.
I’ve tried AA. I am absolutely an addict, but the formula didn’t work for me. There’s far too much blaming and finger pointing. Ultimately the message I took on from those meetings was; ‘if you’re an addict, you’re a bad person’
A few people have recommended CoDA meetings to me, and it’s been on the back burner for a while. I think with my therapist being on holiday, I have been more willing to consider something different this week. So this morning I went along to my first CoDA meeting.
Firstly, I had the wonderful surprise of seeing a friend there who I haven’t been in touch with for a while. She greeted me with a huge smile and a super hug and I instantly felt like the meeting would be OK. The chair was really inspiring and the other women were warm and friendly. I even managed to do a very brief, nervous share. I’m pretty sure I made no sense at all due to anxiety addling my brain, but I’m not left feeling the burn of retrospective embarrassment I often get in these situations.
I feel optimistic about attending again next week. I’m looking forward to learning more about codependency and how I can begin to change my unhealthy relationships, and maybe even learn to care for myself a bit better. I’m hopeful that I’ve finally discovered a fellowship I can buy into. I know the value of sharing and listening in a group of like-minded people and how much comfort it can bring.
The CoDA website lists all their meetings, so if you think it might be for you check out the meetings page here.