When we work with addiction we say that an addict won’t change until they “hit their bottom.” Waiting for this to happen can be maddening for their loved ones, especially painful for loved ones with codependency issues. As they watch the trouble that an addict creates for themselves and others, they think, “When is he/she going to have enough of this and change?” Maybe the question you should ask is, “When am I going to have enough of this and change?”
What is Codependency?
There is a saying that an addict is addicted to something – drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc., but the codependent is addicted to the addict. Sometimes you learn codependent habits as a child in a dysfunctional home. Sometimes you fall prey to codependency while trying to help an unhealthy person who won’t help themselves. Regardless, a codependent person will put their wants, needs, and feelings aside to offer what seems like support to others. They often lose sight of who they are and search for happiness by trying to make other people happy. Codependents are well-intentioned but the problem is their best efforts only foster dependency and continued unhealthy behavior in their loved ones.
Breaking Free From Codependency
If you have had enough and want to start making changes, try some of the following steps:
- Stop denying the problem. “We are as sick as our secrets.” It’s time to start being honest with yourself and others about what is and is not working.
- Stop focusing on your loved one. Instead, start listening to the still, small voice inside that knows you have a right to have your needs met. Ask for what you need and try to do something nice for yourself every day. Soon, you’ll find this comes more easily to you.
- Practice saying “no.”
- Get support. There are many support groups that can help. You might look into Codependents Anonymous, Al-Anon, or Alateen.
- Seek counseling with a therapist who understands this issue.
Some of these steps will not come naturally to you at first but the more you practice them, the easier they will become and the more joy and hope you will feel.