At 24 years old, I found out I was co-dependent. I struggle every day trying to control my behavior and my thoughts. Even now, I still have boundary issues. If you feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility for things out of your control, I think you should read more about co-dependency. This could be a huge eye opener for someone who suffers from depression and cannot seem to pinpoint what keeps causing their dissatisfaction with their relationships.
Co-dependency is a learned behavior. It is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects a person’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. Co-dependency may also be called relationship addiction. A person with co-dependency will have relationships that are one-side and are either emotionally destructive or abusive, according to nmha.org.
A general characteristic of a co-dependent person is low self-esteem and this person will always look for anything outside of himself or herself to make them feel better. Co-dependent people struggle with being themselves because the fear of rejection or abandonment weighs so heavy on them. Most co-dependent people have addictive behaviors, often through drugs, smoking, alcohol, promiscuity, work and gambling.
One thing every person needs to realize when dealing with a co-dependent family member, friend or colleague is their intentions are good, they just don’t realize the adverse influence they are having on the loved ones around them. I know I always have good intentions, unfortunately I either hurt myself or hurt the people I love because I don’t have boundaries.
One of the best things I did for myself was going to a counselor. She was able to listen to me and identify some unhealthy traits I had that were holding me back. These behavior issues I had were stopping me from having healthy relationships. Relationships are an important part of life, but when negative and abusive people surround you, you suffer even when you don’t know it.
My counselor suggested that I read a few books on co-dependency. My first thought was I had seen those books in Barnes and Noble before, but I never thought they would end up on my bookshelf. I read the books and found extreme comfort that I can now understand why my relationships are always a struggle.
She quickly assumed I have been struggling with this unhealthy behavior problem when I explained my extreme sense of responsibility to things out of my control and when I wanted to save all of those close to me. I wondered how I ended up the way I was while being very defensive of my family. Little did I know they were the ones that taught me this behavior.
I love my family, even those I don’t talk to anymore. I was surrounded by bad energy from a very sick mother. She had her own problems, which now I see are hers to own and not mine. Growing up around this, I wanted to be perfect and I wanted to help her so she didn’t hurt on the inside. I never wanted to disappoint my parents for fear they wouldn’t be proud or would think less of me. I just wanted to be accepted. I didn’t realize that thinking like this was going to cause problems with my relationships. It has, and I’ve ruined many relationships because of my behavior.
If you feel you can relate, maybe pick up a book at the library, do some research or see a counselor. It may help more than you know. Ask yourself a few of the following questions. These questions can be found on the Mental Health America website at nmha.org.
Do you keep quiet to avoid arguments?
Are you always worried about others’ opinion of you?
Have you ever lived with someone with an alcohol or drug problem?
Do you have trouble saying “no” when asked for help?
These are only a few of the questions on their website. If you have noticed a pattern of relationship struggles with the people in your life and you seem to think it’s your fault, I strongly suggest educating yourself on co-dependency. Even though I still fight a battle with myself every day, at least I know what the problem is and I know I can overcome this self-destructive and relationship destroying behavior.