If you’re in a relationship and you feel like you’re going a bit crazy, you could be contending with a variety of issues.
Typically, a healthy relationship won’t make you feel like you are going insane. Sure, you may experience conflict every now and then, but you’re able to work it out without either of you experiencing madness.
When I used to work with clients who were having relationship problems, a common culprit of unhealthy relationships is that one or both partners were displaying codependency characteristics.
Before getting into some relationship advice, perhaps I should explain a little bit about what codependency is. As defined by the mental health community, codependency is a set of unhealthy behaviors that stem from excessive psychological or emotional reliance on another person.
One can become codependent with a family member, friend, or intimate person. It is a dependence on someone else to fill your void, help you feel happier, satiate your need for attention, and so on. Put simply, it’s an unhealthy attachment.
Those that display codependent characteristics tend to be attracted to partners with strong personalities.
They could be full blown narcissists, which are extremely self-absorbed, selfish people, or at least on some end of the selfish spectrum.
Many codependents end up with those that struggle with alcoholism or addiction. Or, those that may be ill, as they tend to feel valued if they can “caretake” or be the primary caretaker of someone.
The problem is that the relationship is unhealthy at the core.
There are typically two unhealed “selves” trying to feel whole by depending on the other person. The codependent person may have some of the following characteristics:
There is a saying that the definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior over and over and expecting different results.
For the unhealthy relationship where someone is codependent, there tends to be cycles that happen. There will be periods that are over-the-moon wonderful, where both partners feel on top of the world for each other.
But then, out of nowhere, something will happen. One will become emotionally triggered, which tend to trigger the other one, and emotions will surge. There may be a blow up, which can leave them both feeling exhausted and discouraged.
Have you ever been in a relationship where periodically there is this big blow up, and you break up hating each other? Then a few days later you discuss your relationship, state how you will change, and get back together? Then in a month or two, the same thing happens.
I’ve been there. I was on that rollercoaster ride for five years before finally jumping off for good. The dynamics of the relationship had us both feeling insane at times. We were two people not meshing in a healthy way, due to one or both not contending with some deep rooted emotional issues or inner wounds.
Ross Rosenberg is a licensed therapist who works regularly with codependency.
As a former codependent, Ross understands the dynamics of such unhealthy relationship and asserts that it takes a good bit of work to recover from codependency. His book, The Human Magnet Syndrome, taught me a great deal about the toxicity of such relationships.
He discusses how those who struggle with codependency due to issues like insecurity and fear are automatically attracted to those who will exploit those characteristics, such as narcissists or those struggling with addiction.
It’s a magnetic syndrome that can cause a lot of heartache and make you or both partners feel like they are going crazy.
The good news is there is help available for those who struggle with codependency characteristics.
A great place to start is professional therapy combined with the 12 Step recovery group Codependent Anonymous. For me, having the support from those who understood relationship dynamics helped so much. I felt less alone and more hopeful.
It was a great relief to learn that I was not crazy. I had some old childhood wounds that had never been dealt with on a deep level, and was lacking emotional maturity and communication skills.
I became enmeshed with someone in recovery from addiction, and neither of us were emotionally ready for a healthy relationship. The thing is, we both knew that the relationship was “off”, but we were entwined. And, I was afraid to leave because I was dealing with the fear of abandonment.
There is a saying in recovery circles that says something like this: When the pain gets great enough, you’ll do something different.
Finally, when my pain got great enough, I made a firm decision to make major changes in my life in every area. I knew I had to begin some serious inner healing work and break off that relationship. I was yearning to feel genuine freedom, peace, and joy.
Freedom, peace, and joy are available to you as well.
If you’re struggling in your relationship with characteristics like these, you could be contending with codependency.
Know that there is treatment that can help you begin an inner journey to heal what needs healing. You can also learn important skills, such as conflict resolution and communication skills – both very important to experience healthy relationships.
Recovery from codependency takes time and effort. I still contend with some characteristics now and then, but I can usually recognize them before I automatically react. Today, I have a pocket full of tools that I can use in my relationships.
If you feel crazy in your relationship, or you simply see yourself in some of the codependent characteristics, reach out for help. You deserve to be living a beautiful life where you wake up each day happy just because you are alive and well.
There is help for codependency.
August 8, 2022
August 6, 2022