Have you heard that what happens in the first two years of life sets the stage for the rest? Kind of a scary thought since we have no control over our environment as a toddler.
What is most important early on is a secure attachment (a healthy relationship) with your primary caregiver. For most people this is your mom, but for others it can be your dad, a grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, or babysitter. Whomever took care of your first, and most often, could have created how you engage in all other relationships for the rest of your life.
Before this causes major panic, think of it as a good thing. Everyone has limitations, and not everything we learn can be positive, but wherever you are because of the early attachment, or lack thereof, is where you are today.
If the first interactions you knew were codependent relationships, then you are probably repeating that pattern by attracting and being attracted to people who also had early codependent relationships. Together, the two of you put all your eggs in each other’s basket. You need one another, and you gauge your sense of self-worth from the other’s perception of you.
Fear of abandonment by your partner, enmeshment with your partner, preoccupation with your relationship (at the expense of healthy functioning in other areas of your life), inability to live out your emotions, and complete self-doubt and insecurity are sure signs that you are experiencing a codependent relationship.
So what can you do?
You can start by finding a good treatment program. None of us can heal on our own.
One passage in the Co-Dependent Anonymous “Big Book” explains how codependency can be viewed as a tree. “The roots of the tree are my childhood abuse and neglect. The branches are my acting-out behaviors I developed to cope with life. Both the roots and the branches have to be healed.”
In rehab you will have time, and the support, to work through your earliest relationships. You can figure out what beliefs started during your first years of life, and what you learned and have carried with you all these years.
What impact are these core beliefs and thought patterns having on your relationships?
You will develop a real self, the true self you have always been inside but were not living on the outside. From there, with continued dedication to recovery, you will develop tools and skills that will allow you to start having healthy, non-codependent intimate relationships with well-chosen partners.
What do you have to lose?