What In The World Is Codependency?

What In The World Is Codependency?

I’m Coda What?

 

“Are you kidding me? I’m not codependent and I don’t need a support group!”

That was me ten years ago, when I was an emotional basket case and clueless about just how deep I was in a codependent mud puddle. And, a codependency recovery support group? Really? I had six years of college in a field where we helped people with “issues”! You really think I need to sit with a group of people to talk about how miserable we are?

No thanks.

Or so I thought. Actually, the first time I heard about codependency and a support group to match, I had no idea what the term meant. I just knew that the person telling me about it knew I could use some help. I mean,

I was falling apart on every level and it wasn’t pretty.

Fresh out of a marriage and straight into a toxic relationship can certainly land you there.

Come to find out later that support groups aren’t really as awful as I thought they were. After my own stint going to Nar-Anon and Codependents Anonymous, I learned a great deal about myself, people, relationships, and the world.

What Is Codependency?

Codependency is essentially defined as an unhealthy attachment to a person. It’s a “dependency” on another in a way that’s not really very healthy.

It is a term that came out from the recovery movement years ago, where counselors began to notice that on the opposite end of an alcoholic or addict was a partner or family member that had certain “characteristics” that weren’t all that healthy. 

And, as such, the addict and the partner were “co” dependent upon each other in an unusually unhealthy dance.

codependency recoveryCodependency is a state of “dis-ease” that many experts believe stem from some sort of childhood abuse or neglect. Or maybe from living in a family where addiction or mental health issues were present in one or both parents.  

The dysfunctional personality traits a codependent person displays as an adult may likely have been formed while growing up in an atmosphere that did not have appropriate emotional boundaries. For me, that meant growing up in a home with an alcoholic father and a mother suffering from clinical depression and anxiety disorder. 

The textbook definition of codependency is:

“Excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically one with an illness or addiction who requires support” or “a dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports another person’s addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement.”

Listen, on a broader scale, codependency is something that affects everyone on the planet to a degree.

⇒ It is the programming that’s gone into the subconscious mind over the course of a lifetime. 

⇒ It’s the code that’s been written under the radar.

⇒ Or, for the biblical perspective, it’s that carnal nature gone wild, having lost sight of God’s perspective of us.

Whether it’s Jack and Jill, who live in the suburbs with two kids and careers that rock or Mike and Mary, who are the classic narcissist/victim combo, or Jane and Veronica, the alcoholic and the enabler, codependency characteristics exist in people and relationships across the board. 

Why? Because at the core, codependency is an unhealthy attachment or separation from the true self. 

It’s you disconnected from YOU at your core and God.

It’s an absence or a lack of self-love, which affects the way we interact with ourselves and the world. In other words, it’s you being even just the slightest bit “dependent” upon another person for you level of happiness or peace.

Basically, a codependent person is acting out an addiction. He/she is trying desperately to soothe a deep wound that formed during childhood.  Just as a drug addict tries to fill that void with drugs, a person suffering with codependency tries to fill that void with love and approval. 

They NEEEEEEEEEED love and acceptance from another to feel good about themselves. Their self-worth is found in external dependencies, like people, money, looks, etc.) and not the internal.

People pleasers, over-givers, energy leeches. You get the idea.

You can be codependent on a partner, parents, friends, or even you children.   How do I know?  I’ve been right there on the front lines and I assure you it can destroy a relationship quickly or cause a relationship much dysfunction and heartache.

 

How Codependency Affects People

According to a leading codependency expert, Pia Mellody, a codependent person cannot do five things:

  1. Cannot experience the appropriate levels of self-esteem.
  2. Cannot set appropriate boundaries.
  3. Cannot own their own reality and has lost a sense of self (disassociation)
  4. Cannot deal with adult dependency issues regarding needing and wanting
  5. Cannot experience reality and emotions is moderation or healthy ways. May explode or not feel at all.

codependency recoveryIf you can identify with these characteristics, I want to assure you that there is hope for those struggling with codependency.  As with any “issue” it can be your downfall or it can be a new beginning.  Any problem or addiction can be a doorway to self-discovery and healing.

Codependency causes you to look outside for fulfillment

If you are codependent, you have spent much energy trying to use something outside of yourself to fill a deep-seated wound or void. This wound could be shame, guilt, anger, feelings of abandonment, and so much more.

You feel empty, confused, very alone, and afraid.  Over time you have discovered that “people” make you feel better.  Their attention and love soothes your wound.  A codependent mother bases her life around her children in an unhealthy way. She bases her whole identity in being a mother and loses herself in the process.

A codependent lover is addicted to her partner and approval is CRUCIAL or he/she will end up in a downward spiral fast.  One negative look or word can cause so much drama in a codependent relationship. At the same time, a codependent person may not even be happy in the relationship; she may feel trapped in an abusive, controlling relationship, unable to break free.

She is powerless to change things up or get out.

 

Codependency & Relationships

When you fall in love, there really is a chemical high that occurs. It is euphoric.  If this is healthy, it creates a healthy attachment, which is good.  But this high does not last forever as we all know.  Healthy relationships can continue to function well after the high ends, as the attachment is healthy.  For someone with codependency, when the “high” goes away, the “crazy” comes out.

Codependents obsess and pretty much drive their partner away.  Sometimes this occurs quickly and sometimes partners’ last years in this awful cycle.  For the codependent, there is a serious fear of abandonment, jealousy, the constant need for attention (which if you don’t get can send you into a tailspin), a victim mentality, control, manipulation, stalking, and more.

Codependent people may seem very together on the outside, but on the inside they are most assuredly not.  Over time, as the disease progresses, they will hardly be able to function, their thoughts will be negative, they will typically not have any friends, and their sense of purpose will fade. 

They will isolate and wrap their whole life around one person and as they do, their needs go out the window. They don’t know how to take care of themselves because they are desperately trying to take care of everyone else.

I’ve been there. Lived through it all and now I write and speak about it. My recovery involved a lot of inner work; a journey back to “me” and learning how to really love myself and reconnect with God.  It’s a journey I’m still walking…

Wounded souls everywhere

The way I see it, there are a lot of wounded souls walking around and many of them are looking at others to soothe and heal the pain, but the truth is that we must be the ones to recognize our wounds and then take the necessary steps to begin a journey of healing and growth. Others can play a role, but it is NOT their role to “fix” us.

Psychotherapists talk about digging through layers to get to our childhood days and address the root issues there. Priests talk about original sin and encourage people to ask for forgiveness there. Shamans talk about journeying back to find the original prints (even if it’s in a former life) and healing it there.

As you can see, there are various ways to look at the roots of codependency, but most point us in the direction of going back and contending with something from our past in order to get free.

So, moving forward I want you to start thinking about your relationship issues and contemplating how your present issues probably don’t have much to do with your partner or object of dependency.

No. They’re simply a “pawn” in your life that trigger things in you that you have the opportunity to heal or work on. That boyfriend or husband that is driving you crazy or hurting you over and over is in your life for a reason and it’s not necessarily about him; it’s more about you and your life journey. Your spiritual journey.

We’ll get more into the spiritual views regarding codependency in another post. For now I just want you to begin to digest this truth:

“You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story & hustle for your worthiness.”  Brene Brown

I don’t know about you, but hustling for our worthiness gets extremely tiring.

There is help for you if you feel like you have codependency traits.  Many people have found hope and freedom through 12 step recovery groups, support groups, spiritual counseling,and more.

I am a firm advocate of mindfulness meditation, prayer, and a personal relationship with your Higher Power for codependency recovery. There’s no magic pill, dear ones. Healing and recovery takes time, discipline, consistency, an inner journey, and patience. 

Take some time to learn about codependency. Read, watch videos, share, talk with others, etc. This is your recovery journey, and my hope is that you define yourself less by coda characteristics, and more from the TRUTH of who you really are at your core. Here’s a link to a page I’ve devoted to Codependency Recovery Resources. There you’ll find wonderful books, videos, and links to coaches and counselors who can help you.

 

CODEPENDENCY RECOVERY RESOURCES

Attachment Styles: How Do You Attach To Others?

Attachment Styles: How Do You Attach To Others?

We’ve explored the nature of codependency and how it can slowly ruin a relationship. You get into a relationship and things seem so amazing when the “love high” is going on.

However, at some point the relationship takes on some patterns that are not so healthy. You, or both of you, start displaying dependent behavior.

Clinginess. Neediness. Anxiety.

Just how do people end up practicing such dependent behavior? What are the roots of our codependent tendencies? Why do we give up our freedom and control in exchange for safety and submission?

To some extent, we’ve already explored this issue, but this time, we’re going to dive deeper into the topic further We want to better understand why codependency seems to characterize our relationships.

What kind of attachment do you have?

Every relationship is different, but some relationship experts have come up with three ways in which people “attach” in a relationship.  It is called the attachment theory.

It was John Bowlby who first began studying attachment theory, defining attachment as a “lasting psychological connectedness between human beings.”  He believed that the attachments formed early in life had a significant impact throughout the rest of life.  If a secure attachment is made early, the child will have a better sense of security as he ages and if not, an insecurity will most likely develop.

It was Mary Ainsworth that took Bowlby’s research and expounded upon it in the 70’s and formed the three styles of attachment I will discuss here:

  • Secure
  • Ambivalent-insecure
  • Avoidant-insecure attachment

The stats on this according the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology assert that 20% of people fall in the anxious camp, 25% fall into the avoidant camp, and everyone else (55%) rests in the secure camp.

Journey with me to see where you stand. 

Anxious Attachment

Those with an anxious attachment style most likely did not receive adequate maternal care as children. They became distressed when the primary caregiver would leave because they did not think he or she was coming back. Many emotional needs went unmet due to absence or the caregivers own emotional, mental, or physical distress. Basically, home life was quite dysfunctional and as a result an extreme sense of insecurity formed within the child.

Even homes that may just be slightly dysfunctional can still produce anxious attachments.  Maybe Mom suffered from major depression and though she cared for her baby, she just wasn’t able to give the baby her undivided attention. She was living in a depressive state, unable to really give her baby the emotional support needed. Or perhaps Dad was not expressive of his love, so he never offered tender loving care to the child. He may have engaged with the child some, but not on a deep level, and therefore the child did not really bond with the father.  Insecurity can be formed during childhood for numerous reasons and the level of insecurity depends on many factors.

Some might call this group needier, clingy, or codependent.  If you have an anxious attachment, you are anxious a good bit of the time- especially when you are not with your partner or alone.  You crave your partner’s presence or someone’s presence, because being alone makes you feel anxious.

Thus, you might get termed “needy”. You get anxious when your partner doesn’t call or text you back immediately, you are very sensitive to your partner’s moods, and you don’t like creating or having to deal with conflict. However, you do create conflict because that tends to gain your partner’s attention. Experts state that essentially, you are recreating the same childhood trauma, trying to get your unresolved issues resolved.

I was totally in this category for far longer than I’d like to admit, and it can still creep in at times.

Avoidant Attachment

Those who have avoidant attachment probably avoided their primary caregivers much of the time as children. Perhaps their caregiver was mean or abusive or the child would get punished for “relying” on him or her.  This causes them to put a wall up and learn not to depend on anyone. Those with avoidant attachment love their independence. They want intimacy, but they are afraid that if they go after it, they will lose their freedom.  People in this camp tend to feel smothered or apprehensive when a partner wants to get close. They want deep connections, but put a wall up. They repress their desire for intimacy and keep partner at arm’s length. They get annoyed easily at little things at lack patience.

Now the degree of avoidant behavior can vary greatly. This group may include full-blown narcissists, addicts, emotional or verbal abusers, and just plain selfish or emotionally unavailable people.

Oddly enough, these are the types of people many codependents are attracted to, which is really a recipe for disaster.  Also, one can swing from one category into another at various times in life.

For example, I’ve operated from the anxious attachment in a relationship, being all codependent, and I’ve operated from the avoidant attachment, being emotionally unavailable. Ha. Opportunity to grow on all sorts of levels, right?

If you want to read an excellent book on this topic, purchase Ross Rosenberg’s The Human Magnet Syndrome: Why We Love People Who Hurt Us. This book gives incredible insight into the dysfunctional relationship between a codependent person and a narcissist/addict/emotional manipulator.  Excellent reading! Ross also has many videos on YouTube that I found extremely enlightening on the topic.

Secure Attachment

Those in the secure camp do rather well in relationships. As children, they were able to feel secure that their primary caregiver was dependable and would not abandon them. This helped them to feel more secure throughout life.

Those with secure attachments are good communicators, feeling freedom to share their wants and needs.  When conflict arises, they don’t fly off the handle or operate from a wounded place. They’re more comfortable with intimacy, having less walls erected around their heart. They view the relationship as more of a team, and invest in it regularly. They are more secure in themselves and this helps tremendously in a relationship.

It would be nice if everyone fell into the secure attachment group, but that is not the case. Good news is that you can shift your attachment style if you invest in growing, learning, and changing. It will take some work, but you can do it.  Both anxious and avoidant attachment camps ought to be trying to become more secure.  

Check out Ross Rosenberg’s video on his Continuum of Self Theory, which ties in well with this topic.

Continuum of Self Theory 

Go ahead and invest some time learning about relationship dynamics and getting some counseling if need be.

Purchase some books on relationships and educate yourself. If you fall into the Anxious Attachment group, you’ll want to read up on codependency to try to change some of your thoughts and behaviors.  This book is a great start. There are also many other valuable books out there by experts in the field.

  • All books by Pia Mellody or Melody Beattie are super.
  • A great book on the impact of unresolved trauma and grief is called Heartwounds by Tian Dayton.

If you fall into the Avoidant Attachment group, read up on relationships advice books by experts and professionals in the field. 

  • One of the best books I’ve read that helps relationships is The Five Languages of Love.  It is a must read for everyone.

As you invest in personal and spiritual growth, a better relationship will be a byproduct. As you journey toward becoming more secure in  yourself and God, all of your relationships will improve.  There are so many people who have relationship problems their whole lives, but never make effort to get some good relationship advice.  When something is not working, do something different.

Change requires effort.  Relationships ought to flourish!

“Problems in relationships occur because each person is concentrating on
what is missing in the other person.” ~Wayne Dyer

ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS:

·         What kind of attachment style do you think you have?

·         What characteristics of that attachment style stick out to you the most?

·         Do you think you can progress toward a secure attachment?

·         What steps are you taking to do that?

Go to this link and take a survey to learn where you fit in on the attachment theory. I took this test and the results were very accurate.

http://www.yourpersonality.net/relstructures/ 

 

Set Boundaries With Loved Ones

Set Boundaries With Loved Ones

It’s Alright to Set Boundaries With Loved Ones

 

I’m no stranger to online recovery forums. I find many people write in wondering how to set boundaries with their loved ones.  Whether their loved one is an addict, alcoholic, selfish, unavailable emotionally, etc., they’re just not sure what to do.

Most of the time, my answer is, “It depends” – because it does.

However, there are some common factors associated with setting boundaries and today, I’ll touch upon them.

Boundaries are very helpful in relationships of any kind.  Whether it’s your partner, child, parent, boss, friend, etc., being able to set and keep a boundary is important. If you’re not that great at it, don’t fret. Know that you’re not alone and boundary setting is a skill.  With practice, you’ll get better!

What you want and need matters

Say this with me:

“What I want and need matters.”

This sentence is a power-packed statement.  Why? Because what you want and need DOES matter. Because YOU matter, dear one!

Knowing what you want and need matters, so if you’re not sure, take some time to sit with this.  In your relationships, what do you want and need?

Trust? Respect? Unconditional love? Honesty? Affection? Security? Peace? Affirmation?

What DON’T you want?

Jealousy? Accusation? To be ignored, ridiculed, belittled, rejected, abused, substance abuse issues?

1. Tune in to your feelings

Asking yourself those questions will help you begin tapping into your feelings. This will help you learn what brings discomfort or uneasiness. Or just plain drama!  If his consistent emotional unavailability makes you feel ignored and rejected, those feelings do matter, because you matter, so it’s alright to have a conversation around this area, stating your wants and needs, and thus, setting your boundaries.

2. Be clear

When you’re setting your boundaries, be clear. Be direct.  Come from a kind heart, and not like, “Well, you better do this and this or else I’ll…..”  That sort of tone and intent might not go over very well.  For example, if you want and need some time with your friends regularly (without getting a cold shoulder or accused of cheating), go to your partner and simply state your needs and let him/her know how much you appreciate the support.  Be confident in your ability to express this want and need, because it is important to you, and YOU MATTER.

3. Say, “I deserve this.”

Give yourself permission to have boundaries.  I don’t mean that you have to have rigid rules all over the place, but you do deserve to have a relationship that has mutual boundaries that are set in a spirit of love.  If your partner is struggling with an addiction to alcohol or drugs, for example, you have permission to set some boundaries around that.  I see far too many men and women sweep things under the carpet in such situations, rather than tuning into what they want and need in a relationship (sobriety being one thing), and live in misery. 

If you’re stressed to the core because your partner is doing something that brings chaos or drama, give yourself permission to stand in your truth and speak your truth.

4. Consider the past

Did you grow up in a home where boundary setting was non-existent? Where no one talked about anything?  Did you grow up in a home where alcoholism or drug addiction was present? Many times, in such cases people grow up taking on the role of “caretaker” or people pleaser.  They let their own needs and wants go and “over-care” for others. This gets exhausting. They don’t value the principle of reciprocity, giving and giving, but not allowing themselves to receive.

What has been your past experience? What was modeled to you growing up? Take this into consideration as you learn how to tune into your needs and set boundaries in your life.

5. Allow yourself to care for yourself

Many people struggling from codependency have a tough time caring for themselves.  They’ll place others’ needs before their own, and oftentimes never get around to doing the things they would like to do. Or, they don’t even know what they like to do or need to do, because they are so wrapped up in other peoples’ worlds.  Make self-care a priority.

6. Ask for help

You may need some help when it comes to setting and keeping boundaries.  No shame in that. There are counselors, books, and support groups that are valuable.  Al-Anon, Nar-Anon and Codependents Anonymous are great support groups that will help in learning how to set boundaries.

7. Practice

Being assertive with boundary setting takes practice. Start small, and go from there. Don’t expect perfection or that it will all go as planned. In fact, you may experience some flack from others when you go to them and set a boundary. After all, they’re probably used to you NOT standing in your truth or perhaps even enabling them.  Be persistent and don’t take the flack personal. In the Bible, it says, “Be strong in the Lord, and in God’s mighty power!”  It’s alright to lean on the power of God or Universe!

Relationships need boundaries, so my hope is that you’ll continue to learn about setting and keeping boundaries with your loved ones.  It’s a process, but I assure you that you’ll get better as you practice! 

Are you struggling with boundary setting?  In what way? 

5 Must Read Books For Loved Ones Of Addicts/Alcoholics

5 Must Read Books For Loved Ones Of Addicts/Alcoholics

If you’ve got a loved one struggling with alcoholism or addiction, chances are you’re wondering how you can best support them and take care of you.  It’s not easy being on the opposite end of an addict, that’s for sure. I suggest reading several books on the topic, as there are some wonderful books available.  Here are five of my favorite. 

  1. Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself by Melody Beattie

This best-selling book on codependency is a must-read if you’ve become a bit loco trying to navigate life with an addict or alcoholic.  After all, it’s hard not to get all involved in trying to help and fix those that you love, but when you get so far in that you’re suffering, something’s gotta change.

Do you feel you’ve lost yourself or control over your own emotional life dealing with an addicted loved one? Here, you’ll get a firm grasp on what codependency is, whether this is a struggle for you, and practical tips and tools for managing or overcoming codependency.

I always advise my clients to read this book whether they’re with an addict or a non-addict who may be extremely selfish, narcissist, mentally ill, emotionally unavailable or just a big jerk. Beattie talks about learning how to set boundaries, actually keep them, getting a strong support system, forgiveness, lovingly detaching, and more.

This was the first book I read when I learned I was struggling with codependency and I learned so much about MYSELF.  Get the book and read it.  It will give you hope, set you on a path toward healing, and freedom from the madness that oftentimes comes from being with an addict/alcoholic.

  1. Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help Change People

A must-read for families and friends of those who struggle with drinking and/or drugging. You want to help them, right?  In fact, chances are you’ve tried time and time again. Well, here’s a book that’s different than many others. It’s going to help you learn how you can best support YOURSELF first. 

Yeah, you.  I know, I know, it’s them that are the problem, but dear one, there’s some pretty good evidence out there that suggest that how you respond and relate to your loved one MATTERS. And, when you can model kindness and unconditional love, well…

Wow.  It can help them change for the better!

This book has the clinical evidence to back it up. That made my ears perk up.

Filled with practical examples and exercises, this book will give you hope for a better life for you, and for your loved one.  Note that you won’t be told how you can make your loved one change, but you will be guided on how you can help them WANT to change.  Big difference.

Get it and read it slowly.  It’s a lot of information…great information!

  1. Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Townsend

If your loved one is struggling with addiction, you must begin mastering boundary setting. Because if you don’t, you’ll continue to struggle emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and perhaps even physically. 

Here’s a book that will help you learn what boundaries are and how to set and keep clear, healthy boundaries with your addicted loved one and others. I remember being such a people pleaser that I just couldn’t say no to anyone – especially my partner.  Time and time again I’d let people cross boundary lines, say nothing, and then hate myself for allowing it yet again.

Here’s a book that will help you realize that you can draw a line in the sand and not feel bad about it.  You’ll learn some practical tips on how to say no, what to do if you’re saying no upsets someone, and what are healthy boundaries you should be setting.

A must-read!

  1. Get Your Loved One Sober: Alternatives to Nagging, Pleading, and Threatening

The title is appealing, because chances are you’re tired of nagging, pleading, and threatening.  Here Bob Meyers, champion of the Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) approach for loved ones of addicts, teaches you about the CRAFT method.  This book came before Beyond Addiction book, and I find it to be an easy read that gets you into a new frame of mind regarding your loved one.

It’ll give you hope that your perspective and reactions can help your significant other WANT to make positive changes. Because, let’s face it: nagging and pleading didn’t do the trick, right?

You’ll find some exercises in the book that you can practice, along with clinically proven strategies to help you get your loved one sober.

  1. Don’t Let Your Kids Kill You by Charles Rubin

books for loved ones who are addictsAs a parent, I know first hand how we want more than anything for our children to be healthy and happy.  And, we’d do just about anything to help them achieve that, but when they’re struggling with addiction, we find out in a quick minute just how powerless we are.  When they’re in the self-destruction mode, hijacked by the monster of addiction, it’s devastating and oftentimes paralyzing.

I read almost every day parents that come on the forum and they’re heartbroken and petrified that they’re going to lose their precious child.  They’ve no idea what to do for their child or themselves. They’re stuck.

Here’s a great book – well, recovery guide – is a must-read if your child is an alcoholic or addict. It’ll help you learn how you can consistently practice self-care, so that you don’t slide down a dark path yourself.  There’s spiritual and practical teachings that will help you learn how to best be supportive to your child without enabling, as well as resources for your help should you need.

How To Tell If My Husband (Or Wife) Is Using Drugs

How To Tell If My Husband (Or Wife) Is Using Drugs

How To Tell If My Husband (Or Wife) Is Using Drugs

 

Not knowing if your spouse is using drugs or not can cause so much anxiety.  Maybe they’ve got a history of drug use or maybe you’re seeing some sketchy behaviors.  Have you caught him in a lie? Is he slurring his speech? Have you found paraphernalia?

Drug use is more common than we all want to admit. From pain pills to benzos to alcohol to pot-brownies – there’s plenty of it going around.

But not in your house, right?

Or is it?

The Maddening Feeling of Not Knowing For Sure

Wondering if your spouse is using drugs or not can have you thinking and doing things you thought you’d never do. Once I was with a recovering addict and this person had been prescribed pain pills after a surgery. I thought, “Oh no. She’s gonna get addicted.” So, I did what any codependent partner would do: I counted her pills regularly without her knowing. 

I’m not proud of it, but I wanted to know if we were headed for addiction trouble.

Good news is that I worried for nothing, but that’s not the case for many spouses.

How Can I Tell If My Husband Is On Drugs?

This is the million-dollar question.

Well, you may not always be able to tell, but there are certain signs to be on the lookout for. Now, when I say watch for them, I don’t mean go all hyper-vigilant and watch his every move.  Don’t go snooping through all his things and trailing him through the city. 

What I’m saying is don’t go and get all addicted to his behavior.

Now, what you can do, while taking good care of yourself, is be on guard for the following signs of drug use:

Physically

  • Has he dropped quite a bit of weight fast?
  • Is he sleepy a lot or nodding off more than usual?
  • Does he look like hell?
  • Does he skip meals now?
  • Is he stumbling around?
  • Slurring his words?
  • Are his eyes bloodshot? Are his pupils tiny, tiny or really enlarged?
  • Does he have burns on his fingers? Lips?

Mood-wise

  • Is he progressively becoming irritable and aggressive?
  • Is he paranoid?
  • Overly anxious?
  • Does he head to the bathroom in a so-so or grumpy mood and come out all “Oh, what a wonderful world it is” mood? Then, a bit later he’s passed out on the couch?

Behavior-wise

These are more long-term changes to be on the lookout for:

  • Has he given up doing things he used to like doing? Hanging with the guys? Fishing? Playing with the kiddos?
  • Is he all secretive? Always has his phone within reach and gives you a horrible look if you even glance at it when it beeps or rings?
  • Gets lost headed to the store, coming in hours later?
  • Makes secretive phone calls?
  • Starts hanging out with that sketchy guy from work?
  • Have you caught him in lies?
  • Does he freak out and get all angry when you approach him about your suspicions?
  • Does he miss more and more work?
  • Does he genuinely act like he’s falling apart?
  • Is money missing?
  • Is he selling stuff?
  • Are the medications disappearing faster than they should be?
  • Is he going out all hours of the night when he used to be in bed at 10pm?

What’s The Verdict?

After looking at these signs, what do you think?  You think he’s using? 

It’s alright not to know for sure. Don’t make yourself crazy. 

If you’re concerned and some signs are there, it’s time to start learning how to approach him.

Don’t run to him in a tyrant screaming, “OMG, I can’t believe you’re on drugs!”

That’s not going to get you far. 

Confronting someone using drugs takes delicacy and strategy. You’ve got to prepare and plan.

For more information on how to do that, tune in for my next blog post.

Can A Codependent Be A Narcissist?

Can A Codependent Be A Narcissist?

Can You Be Codependent and a Narcissist?

Some people have asked me if it’s possible that they could be codependent and a narcissist.  Now, from a psychological standpoint, the answer is no, mainly because each disorder is at the opposite end of the spectrum. 

What can occur is that the codependent person (because of the nature of the relationship dynamics between the two) can get to a point where they think that they are overly selfish in asking the narcissist for their wants and needs.  They view their normal “wanting” as needy, insignificant, or not important.

can a codependent be narcissistThe Whipping Pole

At the same time, so many codependent people get so beat up at the narcissist’s “whipping pole” – at their projections – that they start to believe they are a selfish narcissist.

For example, a narcissist may use manipulation to gain control over the codependent person, such as gaslighting. If you’ve been with a narcissist, chances are you’ve experienced gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a form of mental abuse where someone is manipulated into pretty much thinking they are crazy.  The whole conversation might start out with the codependent trying to speak their truth to the narcissist and by the end, the codependent is thinking the’re crazy for bringing it up, apologizing for even doing so.

I’ve experienced this when trying to stand up for myself in a relationship with someone.  Trying to speak a want or a need, maybe something like some quality time together, and by the end of the conversation I felt absolutely crazy, apologizing for having any needs.

Why Do They Think This Way?

If you’ve got some codependency traits going on, why would you come to think you’re a narcissist?  Because of the story you’ve got going on in your mind- that you’re selfish for having wants and needs. You can take that feeling of being selfish to the extreme, thinking that maybe you’re a narcissist.

But if you really think about this, a narcissist wouldn’t be apt to question this at all. You rarely ever find a narcissist sitting around thinking, “Am I a narcissist?”  Nah, they’re usually projecting and pointing the finger at others as to why they are having any problem.

But someone who’s codependent will ask such a question. They’ll sit around using up their emotional energy to wonder how they’ve caused others grief. They’ll be quick to blame themselves and they’ll be quick to think they haven’t done something good enough or have done things wrong.

This makes me think of a large reason why someone turns out codependent in the first place.  More than likely, raised in a home where there was either a narcissistic parent, emotionally abusive parent, addict/alcoholic, etc. The codependent person looked upon by the unhealthy, wounded parent to make them feel better. To “caretake” them and experience conditional love, (“I’ll love you if you do this.”), so they’d have a shot at feeling good enough, or worthy.

Like one of my good friends, who was raised by an alcoholic father and narcissistic mother. She picked up her codependent traits seeking approval from her parents, but in the process abandoned herself. And she spend a good part of her life “over-caring” and people pleasing trying to validate her worth by doing so – until she got on the codependency recovery path.

Conclusion

So, if you’re wondering if you’re a narcissist, chances are you’re not. Chances are you fall more into the codependency camp, but good news, dear one, is that you can learn how to overcome codependency.  In fact, you already are learning!

Dominica