Are You Worried That Your Relationship With Your Loved One May Be Unhealthy?
Are you so preoccupied with your loved one’s needs that you ignore your own? Perhaps your self-esteem is largely dependent on their love or approval. You may routinely acquiesce to their wishes to avoid conflict. This lack of boundaries (most noticeable with those who are closest to you) may also show up in your relationships with friends or colleagues.
Are the anxiety and depression involved with taking care of your loved one depressing your immune system? This is especially likely if you have been overworking, eating poorly, or otherwise neglecting self-care. Perhaps you have placed your professional goals or personal interests on hold and you wonder what life would be like if you could prioritize your own wellbeing instead of always focusing on your loved one.
Have you noticed troubling patterns in your relationships? And even if you have been abused or neglected, have you hesitated to end those relationships? If your loved one is also suffering from alcoholism or other addiction, you may wonder how you can support them without losing who you are in the effort.
If codependency and/or your loved one’s addiction is putting a strain on the relationship, your instinct may be to focus all of your attention on them. However, you may have already begun to realize that you can accomplish much more by focusing on your own growth and healing.
Addiction And Codependency Often Go Hand-In-Hand
While psychologists and researchers are still refining their definition of codependency, they estimate that millions of Americans are codependent. Codependency can arise out of low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues. Most commonly, though, codependency is thought to arise as a result of living with someone struggling with addiction. Considering that more than 20 million Americans have at least one addiction, the prevalence of codependency is no surprise.
Some people initially develop codependent thoughts and behaviors as the spouse or parent of someone suffering from an addiction. For others, being raised by a caretaker dealing with addiction can set the stage for codependency. Children of alcoholics, for example, often bring codependent behaviors into their adult relationships-long after their parents have quit drinking or passed away.
Long-term neglect, abuse, or exposure to addiction can increase your tolerance of the pain that comes with these situations, making codependency harder to recognize. Oftentimes, it takes the realization that you have been enabling a loved one’s unhealthy behaviors to alert you to the problem. But even then you may feel too ashamed of your loved one’s behavior (or your own enablement of it) to talk about the issue.
Many people are naturally very guarded about family addiction and codependency issues until they find someone who understands what they are going through. As a therapist, I not only understand what it’s like to struggle with these issues, but I can also help you strike a healthier balance between helping others and taking care of yourself.