When we hear “recovery” I think we tend to think drugs and alcohol. Other addictions are now entering our awareness too, like gambling, sex, fame, and shopping, but what about codependency?
You can be addicted to another person, or the thought of another person. You can be addicted to your relationship, or again, to the idea of a relationship. The idea of being addicted to anything actually stems from codependency. When you do not relate to yourself well, in a positive and healthy manner, you are putting the relationship with someone or something else above yourself.
Let’s add codependency recovery to the list above. People who are addicted to someone and who need someone else in order to validate themselves are codependent. Alcohol, heroin, OxyContin, online poker, getting famous, whatever it is, it has become priority over dealing with your issues and loving yourself.
What starts during the first few years of your life, can last a lifetime. Is your mom codependent? What about your dad, your siblings, or whatever adults you were around most as a kid? Chances are if they are codependent, you are too.
So, how do you get started in codependency recovery?
First step is to stop engaging in the codependency. Abstinence from the person, the relationship, the substance, the behavior, whatever. Stop engaging.
Next, become aware of who you are and what you do. Recognize what inside of you is still wounded because that will help guide you toward what is being reflected in your relationships with other people. If you don’t feel good enough on your own, you may be seeking someone who also doesn’t feel good about who he or she is either. Together, you are relying on the relationship to make you feel good enough.
Next, identify where the pattern keeps repeating. Be honest with yourself. Understand that denial is a natural tendency, but do your best not to give in to it.
Accepting where you are in the process and what steps you need to take to heal is tough, but very helpful in codependency recovery. When you feel lonely, sad, or bored, what is your natural desire? What is your usual go-to for gratification, reassurance, or to simply feel better in the moment? What is healthy and unhealthy about that pattern?
Taking action is the meat and potatoes. Behavior changes change lives. Recovery is all about growth. Stretching your comfort zone to evolve as a person builds your self-esteem and keeps you from reverting back to old damaging patterns.
With formal treatment and a good support system, codependency recovery is feasible, and will transform who you are and how you live!