Many people are unfamiliar with the term “codependency,” but the phenomenon is a common one.
Early in the study of alcoholism it was discovered that family members of alcoholics often manifest a number of dysfunctional characteristics of their own, usually as a result of living with addiction. Their fear for the addict or of the addict can twist and distort a loved one’s thinking and cause a ripple effect throughout the entire family system. While the addict is “hung up” on drugs or alcohol, loved ones can become “hung up” on the addict. Many people refer to this phenomenon as codependency.
Even after the addict becomes sober, loved ones may still be trying to deal with their own reactions to the trauma they experienced during the fearful years. Thus loved ones often need to do some recovery work of their own. The following thoughts might prove helpful to those who have lived or still live with addiction.
Many of us deal with feelings of unworthiness and emptiness that began in a difficult or abusive relationship with a practicing addict. Some of us were raised in families where addictive compulsive behaviors were manifest in alcoholism, drug addiction, workaholism or perfectionism. In some families the addiction was compulsive spending, gambling or raging. Some of us experienced sexual abuse, the result of another’s most hideous compulsion. Others of us were subjected to the effects of these same addictive compulsive behaviors during our adulthood by either a spouse or a child.
Applying the principles found in the Twelve Steps to our daily lives and relationships can bring us a sense of balance and sanity and free us from these destructive characteristics. Each of us is growing at our own individual rate as we learn to relate correctly with our Heavenly Father and Savior. In recovery, we have come to realize that our relationship with God is the most important one of all and must be functioning well before any other relationship will function. No matter how traumatic your past or despairing your present may feel, there is hope in these principles for a new way of life. Through living these principles and concepts, we guarantee you will find the strength within to be what God intended you to be—precious and free.
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Excerpted from the pamphlet, “Speaking Heart t’ Heart on Codependency.” Used with permission from Heart t’ Heart.