The Codependency Dance
If you’re like me, you sometimes dance in your home all by yourself when one of your favorite dance songs comes on. Ah, come on, you know you do, and rightly so:
Dancing is fun.
Well, except the Codependency Dance.
That kind of dance stinks.
When I got together with my ex-partner, I had no idea we were about to embark on such a toxic dance. I thought it would all be bliss, and on the surface, in the beginning, it was. However, the toxicity in that relationship made it extremely challenging.
What is the Codependency Dance?
The Codependency Dance is two people who seem to have all the moves to dance in harmony, but much of the time they’re not doing so hot.
You’ve got the one struggling with codependent characteristics (people pleaser, caretaker, lack of self-esteem, etc.). Then you’ve got the partner who may be the addict, alcoholic, narcissist, or emotional abuser.
The codependent is working hard at pleasing their partner and the partner is loving the attention and care.
The codependent is getting a sense of approval or worth from their partner, wrapping their world around them. The partner, whether they’re a narcissist, addict, or just plain selfish or immature person, will tend to be controlling, selfish, and may not care one bit about the well-being of their partner. They simply want to live their life doing what they want and be taken care of by their partner. They may belittle or verbally abuse the codependent partner, maybe not even realizing how awful this is.
The codependent person may put up with it, not able to set and keep boundaries.
The Codependency Dance Continues
The codependency dance will continue on and off throughout the relationship. Sometimes the dance will be magical and flow in harmony and other times it will be a dance of intense drama, a pursuing and a retreat, manipulation, jealousy, and control. Both will feel trapped and miserable, yet they won’t be able to end the dance.
Despite the insanity, the recurring conflict, neglect, abuse, shame, pain, the dysfunctional couple will continue the dance, playing the same old tunes over and over.
The leader and the follower
The codependency dance ensues with a leader and a follower. The codependent gives up her power because that is what she is used to and the narcissist/addict takes the lead willingly. In fact, he insists. It seems to work for a while, but after a while, the dance gets boring. The codependent gets tired of giving, giving, giving and getting avoided or taken for granted in return.
I’ve been there. Waiting on the dance floor for a new tune to start, waiting for my partner to swoop me away and look deep into my eyes with love and passion. Waiting for the void that I try to vainly fill with my partner to actually get and stay filled.
The dance resumes after drama has erupted. The codependent still feels unloved. The narcissist/addict feels smothered. Both are slowly dying inside, but the elephant in the dancing room goes unnoticed. Communication is hard. The codependent is angry, sad, and becoming hopeless. She knows she has an “issue” and doesn’t know how to make it go away. The narcissist/addict takes on more outside activities because he is going insane feeling the negative energy at home.
The codependent continues trying to make the partner feel loved and appreciated, but realizes he will never make her feel loved in return no matter what he does. She gives up trying. She plans her escape because she knows she will die if she stays. And so will he.
The dance must stop.
She musters up the courage and leaves. The dance stops. Bitter words are spoken. Angry emotions rule. Depression sinks deeper.
Both are faced to look at the dis-ease of codependency and narcissism or emotional unavailability. What will they do?
Most go off immediately seeking another person to latch onto. Someone to fill the void. Someone who will dance much the same way as the former partner. The codependent, if not careful, will choose another person who they are deeply attracted to on the surface, but later will resent. They pass by the healthy ones, as they seem boring. Their intense feeling of aloneness scares them almost to death. They can’t be alone. They don’t want to be alone. Many go back to the narcissist or addict. Over and over.
The narcissist will seek out unconsciously another person who lacks self-esteem or had a traumatic childhood. Someone they can subtly control with their words and moves. They don’t want to be alone either. After all, the codependent did so many things for them.
Hope for Codependency Recovery
If you’re codependent, you don’t have to choose the same type of partner. You don’t have to choose a partner at all. In fact, it’s a pretty good idea to be single for at least one year. Face your present and past pain head on. Get a therapist. Join a 12 step support group. Stop drinking. Stop whining. It’s time to grow up and get past the tough stuff.
Make a couple of friends. Get out and have some fun. Stop thinking about your former partner. (It wasn’t working, I assure you). You’ve got to heal those psychological wounds before you ever think of hooking up with another.
Grow your self-worth. Fall in love with yourself. Create a life that you love without feeling responsible for others. You can jump onto the journey to healing and reclaim the worth and power that you lost many years ago.
The addict, alcoholic, emotional manipulator, and narcissist must get help as well. Get a counselor. Take some time to take care of you and your household. Adjust what needs adjusted. Take a good look at your thoughts and attitudes. Did you treat your partner disrespectfully? Were you controlling? Jealous? Emotionally cold? Get the help you need in order to have a healthy relationship.
Dream of dancing a healthy dance someday with a partner who is unconditionally loving and fits. A match. A soul mate. Neither one vying for attention like an energy vampire or acting on jealousy for no reason. No manipulation.
Just pure, healthy love.
But not for a while. It’s time for you to fall in love with yourself, heal from past wounds, grow in every way, and share hope and encouragement with others.