For the Family: Codependency

Codependency…that dirty little word.

What is your immediate reaction upon hearing the term codependency? Most folks glaze right over it but for those of us who are in an all-out battle with it, the word feels deeply personal.

codependencyCodependency can be characterized by things such as shame, people pleasing, poor boundaries, reactivity, care-taking, control and dysfunctional communication. But how does it manifest? How can I spot it? The pit in my stomach when I see you are struggling. My severe inability to allow you to be uncomfortable. The nervous agitation when I feel the need to intervene on your behalf. The restless stirring in my spirit when I believe that if you would just do it my way the outcome would be well for all parties involved. The resentment I feel when you don’t heed my advice. The judgement I bestow when you allow it to all fall apart after I just cleaned it up for you. The drive to control every situation with what I feel are the very best of intentions. This is how that dirty little word can show up in our lives.

Recently sitting in a 12 Step family meeting, a gentleman shared something with the group that absolutely floored me. He stated boldly, “I realized that I needed to stop doing the unnecessary for the ungrateful.” How simple and yet profound. What would it look like to put this phrase into actual practice? How different might my daily life appear if I stayed in my own lane and allowed the power of God to show up for others in my life?

We can define the term, agree we suffer as do the people around us, but now what? The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous defines the dilemma for alcoholics as being “lack of power”. The alcoholic and addicts in our lives have no power over the substances that control them. We family members and loved ones have no power over the alcoholic and addict or the disease itself. Have you admitted this lack of power in your life yet? Until this submission happens there will never be a need to seek a Power greater than yourself. Until this submission, YOU will remain the ultimate power on your stage. You will continue to set that stage arranging all the rest of the players as you see fit.

Those who recover from the disease of addiction work a program that includes submitting to the God of their understanding. For families of those in recovery, it is important to begin our own journey towards freedom from codependency. Many of us find the tools in the hands of a skilled therapist, others in Al-Anon and still some in various spiritual endeavors. Whatever the path may be, the great news is that there is hope and there is a solution.

Audrey Woodfin
Spearhead Lodge