Codependency is a type of relationship that is one-sided and has the potential to be abusive. That’s why you often here addicts who are actively drinking associated with codependency. It’s like a relationship addiction. The dynamic is the addict is needy for support but doesn’t actually ask for it a lot of the time, but sometimes that is not the case if they are trying to get well. The other person is the enabler and validates their feelings or continues to feed into their addition, which doesn’t help them but makes them sicker. It’s a vicious cycle where the caretaker isn’t getting what they need, but they believe that they are appreciated because it’s an illusion. It’s hard to break this dynamic because it’s addictive to both people but in an unhealthy way.
Healthy relationships are built on reciprocity and codependent ones are unfulfilling because one person is doing the majority of the work to maintain a toxic dynamic. The trouble is that the caretaker feels valued when they take care of the addict. It’s difficult to leave that relationship when the illusion is that they’re wanted. The reality is that the addict doesn’t actually care about the person who is caring for them. They are only concerned about their substance. It’s the drug that they are in a relationship with. They’re not worried about the human who is enabling them because that person is disposable. Eventually, one of three things happens: either the co-dependent caretaker realizes that they are being manipulated and leaves the relationship, this dynamic continues indefinitely or the addict dies. It’s not pretty if the last two things happen, but it’s the reality of addiction.
If you’re in a codependent relationship ask yourself these questions as the caretaker:
- What are you getting from this relationship? What needs is it providing to you?
- What does this relationship remind you of from your childhood? Why?
- Do you want to stay with this person? Why/why not?
Answering these questions will provide clarity on your internal needs and show you the decision that you need to make for yourself. You are the most important person in your life and the relationships you hold are secondary. Of course, we all want to be loved and valued, but it’s important to evaluate the relationships you have and choose who stays and who leaves. You don’t have to accept someone into your life who makes you feel bad about yourself.
You are the master of your destiny. You have the right to decide who stays and who goes. Setting boundaries is the most important step for removing yourself from a co-dependent relationship and you can do it, it just takes patience, tenacity, time and diligence. You have to want to be healthy badly enough to take the appropriate steps to get there. Codependency (in itself) is an addiction. With anything that is addictive, it’s important to evaluate whether or not you need to continue feeding into it. You need to make a choice, do you stay or do you leave? Your call.