Throughout the entire month my boyfriend was in ICU, I focused pretty much all of my energy, time and attention on him and his recovery. Now that he is at his parent’s house, I am realizing that it was easier for me to do that than to look at myself in the mirror and reflect on my own behavior. I feel like such a cliche…the daughter of an alcoholic who ends up dating an alcoholic. As a child, I felt like I had no control over my father and his drinking problem, yet there was always that part of me that felt like if I was “good” or did not give him a reason, he would stop. I knew deep down it was not my fault, but I consistently found myself playing the role of peacekeeper in my family and I was always the only one to try to placate him, hoping it would calm him down or avoid an altercation. I did not feel during my relationship with my boyfriend that I was enabling him, but I have started to realize that I was definitely codependent. Below I listed the top ten signs of codependency and they literally describe me to a T. My boyfriend (I guess I should be writing ex-boyfriend, really) and I have been having a lot of heart-to-heart, honest conversations and he recently said something that really made me think. He said that in some ways drinking was easy for him because he knew that I was responsible and would take care of everything. It is really so true. He knew that he could drink and pass out and I would feed the dog and let her out. I catered to him so much, did so many things for him that my sister would joke that I was his secretary. I know that was fulfilling some kind of void in my life, some desire to please other people, to feel needed and in control. I constantly had expectations and was mostly always disappointed. I would create scenarios in my head of us both getting off work and going to the mall and then out to dinner and then coming home and watching a movie. And more often than not, he would be drunk or sleeping. I would be upset and make excuses for him…he was stressed at work, his depression was kicking in, the dog was sick.
I knew deep down that he loved me- truly loved me. I think he still does. However, I felt unloved and unwanted and lonely a lot. I was deprived of affection and of intimacy for so long. I think that is why finding out he was unfaithful by texting another woman was so hurtful. The attention and interest that I so desperately wanted from him for years he so easily bestowed on someone else.
It is really difficult to objectively look at our relationship since it just ended and the heartache is still so fresh. He has a lot of work to do in order to get healthy and sober and I accept the fact that I cannot be responsible for him anymore. It is time to focus on myself so I can become a stronger person. I also know that I cannot hide behind him and his problems anymore as a way of avoiding my own.
TEN SIGNS OF CODEPENDENCY
- Feeling responsible for solving others’ problems. The codependent feels the need to solve another’s problems. They feel that the person in need cannot manage to make the right decisions or take the right actions to solve his or her own problem.
- Offering advice to others whether it is asked for or not. The codependent jumps at the opportunity to provide “much-needed” advice.
- Expecting others to do what the codependent says. Codependents often do not understand boundaries.
- The codependent feels used and underappreciated. The codependent will expend enormous amounts of energy to take charge of another’s life. This is all under the guise of sincerely wanting to help. When the help or advice is ignored or rejected, the codependent feels angry, abused, and unappreciated.
- Trying to please people so others will like or love the codependent. Codependents will go out of their way to please another person. They hope to receive love, approval or be accepted and liked. If the approval is not given, the codependent will feel victimized.
- Taking everything personally. Because there are little to no boundaries, any remark, comment or action is a reflection back upon the codependent. This makes the need to feel in control paramount.
- Feeling like a victim. Everything that happens either to the codependent or the loved one is a reflection on the codependent. Such people usually feel victimized and powerless and do not understand their role in creating their own reality.
- Using manipulation, shame, or guilt to control others’ behavior. Codependents will respond in a fashion that will force compliance by others. These tactics may be unconscious and it is important that the codependent feel in control.
- Lying to themselves and making excuses for others’ bad behavior. Because codependents do not deal directly with their feelings, they develop techniques to lie to themselves about others’ behaviors. Because they feel responsible for others’ behaviors, they will rationalize and blame others for their loved one’s poor behavior, seeking to maintain control.
- Fearing rejection and being unlovable. The codependent fears that if he or she is not successful at everything, or indeed expresses his/her feelings or needs, they will be rejected. In a codependent’s way of thinking, he or she will be unlovable.