by Lawrence Wilson, MD
© December 2009, The Center For Development
Co-dependency refers to a common, but unhealthy addictive quality of some relationships in which the parties need or use each other to lean on, so to speak, rather than to enrich and assist each other. It can be a very painful and debilitating condition that affects millions worldwide.
When the same condition occurs with an object, such as cigarettes, it is called addiction. The phenomena are one and the same. So co-dependency could be defined as an addictive relationship. Almost everyone experiences it at one time or another.
CO-DEPENDENCY AND THE FAMILY
Unfortunately, many families develop co-dependent relationships. This occurs for many reasons, such as living closely together, bringing up each otherÕs issues, having children who are naturally dependent upon their parents for sustenance and life, and sexual and intimacy issues that arise in families naturally.
So families must beware and watch for the signs of co-dependency because it definitely takes the love and joy out of family life.
THE SEXUAL ORDER AND CO-DEPENDENCY
An interesting aspect of co-dependency occurs between men and women when sex takes a high priority in a relationship and when the woman tends to take the lead in a relationship. This certainly does not mean that women are less important or should not participate as fully, but there is a concept in the bible and in ancient Oriental science that the male should lead and guide. This has to do with menÕs generally better logical mind and with womenÕs nature to enjoy going along and following a good man. It is not about the superiority of man or woman, just understanding their nature and what really makes most of them happy.
So while there are exceptions, the sexual order can matter, and if it is reversed, the relationship can easily turn into a co-dependent one. That is the importance of this idea. A future article will discuss this interesting topic in detail.
PSYCHOLOGY OF CO-DEPENDENCY AND ADDICTION
In co-dependent relationships, someone or something seems attractive because he, she or it makes you feel better. But in fact your energy is being drained. Usually, your energy or your essence was taken away many years before. So you are not even aware that your state of being is not whole and wholesome. Therefore, another person or an addictive substance comes along, and appears to make you whole. But in fact, something is missing, or you would not be so attracted.
A related principle is that anything that weakens you will predispose you to addiction and co-dependency. This is why alcohol and cigarettes are such a problem. They weaken the body, increasing the need for the addictive substance.
Any aspect of a person that weakens you will tend to cause a co-dependent relationship. This can be a person who is too powerful, too violent, too needy, too nice, too unpredictable, or in some way makes you feel insecure or inadequate. Any of these behaviors actually weakens you.
The feeling of inadequacy, or the anger or fear that the behavior causes, results in a temporary 'highÕ. You may feel superior, or their behavior just gets the adrenaline flowing for a while. In either case, it weakens you further. This makes you more attracted to the person to get another short-lived 'high'.
This is the essence of addictive and co-dependent relationships. Just like cigarette smoking, you usually have to repeat the behavior until you become sick or depressed enough to realize that the relationship is unhealthy and sickness-producing.
We depend wholly upon our Creator for life and sustenance. That is a healthy and proper co-dependent relationship. If one breaks the Second Commandment, which almost everyone does at some time, one substitutes a lesser god for the One God. (The Second Commandment states "Thou shalt not have any other gods before me").
One may substitute cigarettes, or another person, or money. These become oneÕs God. That is, one believes one 'needs' the item or person, that happiness or success depends upon it. One becomes 'committed' to the lesser God. This is the essence of the co-dependent or addictive relationship. It is worshipping a false god. It is always a lie and eventually always leads to unhappiness or worse. Here are some reasons why people worship false gods.
1) The love of the true
Creator has somehow become associated with pain. This could have come from childhood experiences, a religious
upbringing with a belief in a vengeful God, or at times is the result of
deliberate efforts by some adult earlier in your life to sever your
relationship with your Creator.
Children's innocence, which is related to their trust in God, is very embarrassing and irritating to many parents, teachers, and even preachers. Many adults will go out of their way to destroy the child's trust and faith in God, or make it seem like God is the source of all their unhappiness and pain.
Many people contend with these problems. Secretly, the parents and teachers feel guilty because they had their relationship with God severed years before. Just the presence of the innocent and trusting child reminds them of their pain and their guilt. Therefore they are often unconsciously compelled to do whatever they can to destroy the source of their embarrassment and guilt - you, the trusting child.
2) The proud ego does not like the fact that it is in a dependent relationship with the Creator. So it blocks it from consciousness. However, we cannot exist alone, so the ego then has to find false gods as substitutes for the real thing. This is a form of ego stubbornness.
3) Some people choose to
block the love of the Creator out of their life. They choose separation from God. This is a choice, one that we have all made in the
past. It has afforded us all kinds
of interesting experiences.
For many people, the time for separation is over. We know this because our relationships based upon separation become very painful. These are the 'special relationships' spoken of in A Course in Miracles and other spiritually oriented books.
These relationships are brought to us to we will finally make the decision to choose oneness with the Creator, and to accept the Creator back as our primary relationship. Unhealthy relationships serve an important purpose to wake us up.
is Love? The first thing to heal
co-dependency is to understand the discussion above. This can help anyone to understand the situation and not to
deny a problem, usually by calling it something it is not (love).
Co-dependency, like addiction, is always associated with denial. Many people 'love' others the way they love cigarettes, beer or television programs. This is not love, but attachment, addiction and co-dependency.
Another fundamental principle is that love is not a feeling. If feelings are present, it is addiction or co-dependency. Love is an attitude, and most of the time, love is the absence of sensation.
For example, if a cigarette, glass of wine, petting your cat, or an encounter with your sexual partner produces feelings, people often say they are "in love with it". But this is not the love of the Creator, or love at all. It is just body feelings, which are nothing but physiological responses to stimuli. One knows it is not the love of the Creator, because it begins and ends in time. Then one needs another cigarette, more wine, more sex or whatever. The love of the Creator is more subtle, but always present.
It is necessary to be brutally honest about what love is, and what it is not. The popular songs and movies are wrong. They perpetuate your confusion. There is nothing wrong with wine, cats or sex, unless you elevate them to something they are not - love - and attempt to substitute them for the real thing.
Back Your Power. Another
aspect of healing co-dependency is to take back your own power, or the power of
God as it flows through you, from your false god or gods. This has to do with self-esteem and
Decide that you are worthy of the Creator's love because it is the truth, no matter what you have done or havenÕt done in your life. If it were not true, you wouldn't be alive as we are all dependent on this type of love.
third principle is you must be willing to receive the love of the Creator. Most people become so used to giving
power away that it feels natural.
Taking power back can bring up thoughts that you will abuse it, or you donÕt deserve it, or it isnÕt nice, and it can feel unnatural. It requires getting used to it.
are likely to go through an identity crisis. Be prepared to see and become who you really are. Maybe you won't be the cute, innocent,
docile creature you think you are.
This has to be okay with you.
Better to be genuine.
Another principle of healing is to know that your real personality, which may take a while to develop, will not hurt anyone.
One more principle of healing is that tour truly wonderful and valuable personality characteristics will remain intact if your identity shifts, even if it shifts drastically. The only aspects that will be lost will be the phony ones that you are clinging to, or that others have imprinted upon you but that are not the real you.
Many, many people have terrible fears that if they say what is on their mind, if they behave like they feel like behaving toward another, if they dropped their 'props' and mannerisms, they will be rejected and scorned by their partners or by the world. It is not so!!! Real people will respect you more, and like you more. The only ones who will not like are the other co-dependent types, who are themselves putting on an act and do not want you to break their spell - often the spell they have over you.
Be real and stay real! You can always apologize later if you do something really outrageous. Your real friends will forgive you, and in the process you will find out who are your real friends. This in itself is very valuable, especially if you are considering living with one, or marrying one of them.
Healing the separation from God comes about when you desire it and allow it. Until then, the ego is still having a good time acting out its dramas, its illusory separation from God. It will not want to stop, as this will mean the destruction or dissolution of the ego self. It wants to survive. A time must come when you thank the ego for all the drama or entertainment it has provided to you, and all the rich and varied experiences it has made, but explain that you are ready to move on to a better life.
principle of healing is to know clearly that all your wounds from the past will
come up for review if you desire healing.
Do your best to observe them without judgment.
It is extremely helpful and sometimes necessary to maintain a healthful diet and lifestyle, with adequate rest and exercise. This will strengthen the body. Keep working with wholesome and healthful activities, such as meditation, yoga, reading inspiring books, and being around inspiring people. A coach who understands this entire article is also helpful and necessary at times. It can be a professional counselor, friend, family member or even a pastor or other spiritual counselor. These resources help reconnect you to your Creator and your true self.
Many therapies, from conventional psychotherapy to body work, nutritional balancing, spiritual guidance and others are helpful to bring up suppressed traumas and memories and release them, enhance awareness and restore balance and harmony.