Codependency is an unhealthy way of relating to others, usually learned as a coping skill as a child. It’s characterized by being dependent upon another person in an unhealthy way for your happiness.
For me, that person was the drug that made me feel good. I spent a lot of time doing whatever I could to please them, wanted to be with them all the time. I was insecure and jealous. My self-worth came from their approval and had a tough time setting boundaries.
Codependent people usually end up in a toxic relationship and it takes some work to repair each other and the relationship. Therapy is always a great idea because many times those caught up in a codependent dance just keep dancing to the same dramatic tunes. Things will be good for a bit and then some emotional drama will unfold. You might break up and realize two days later you’re each other’s soul mate….again.
This isn’t to say that all conflict in a relationship is bad or characterizes codependency. All relationships encounter struggles and conflict. However, a relationship marked with codependency will struggle more often and most likely one or both partners will have poor conflict resolution skills.
You might not realize this, but sometimes fear impersonates love in a relationship.
For example, Dawn says she is madly in love with Jim.
She caters to him constantly, staying in constant contact with him via text and video chats. Jim is always on her mind, but not in the way that those fresh in love tend to think about each other. Rather, Dawn is extremely worried and nervous that she’s going to lose Jim.
No one knows this, but it’s there and she’s obsessed with trying to keep him on a tight leash so she can feel some sort of relief.
Sure, Dawn really does care about Jim, but what she doesn’t quite realize yet is that she is contending with an underlying fear of abandonment. This unhealed fear is likely to continue to cause problems for her and her relationship until she addresses it.
Many people have intimate feelings for their partners, but a big reason they are there is because they simply don’t want to be single. They fear being alone. They’ve probably jumped from one relationship to another quite quickly for years now.
It’s actually pretty common. Being single and alone is not always optimal and it sure can get lonely, but that’s no reason to jump into something you’re not ready for or settle for something you’re not really happy with.
I used to fear being alone. It was terrible. It’s not that I couldn’t take care of myself, but I happened to have some old childhood wounds that I’d never dealt with and the fear of abandonment haunted me.
So, guess what I did? I went from a marriage and jumped right into a toxic relationship where neither of us were emotionally ready for a relationship.
And I stayed for over five years in that mess because I was afraid to be single or alone.
The good news is that I finally contended with my fear of being alone through therapy, meditation, and a great support system. Better news is that you can too!
The truth is that being single doesn’t have to be a horrible thing.
At first, I thought I would hate it. I definitely didn’t like it for a while, but then once I’d processed the grieving of a breakup, worked on myself, and got out there to make friends and begin rediscovering who I was, much of that fear went away.
My confidence started coming back. I felt more worthy, lovable, and loved. I didn’t NEED a romantic partner to make me feel happy.
Turns out, I was just happy!
I used to think that people would judge me for being single. “Oh, you’re still single?” they’d say, while secretly thinking maybe I was a loser that couldn’t land anyone. I got over that fear and felt completely fine being single and happy. There are many wonderful things about being single, just like there are many wonderful things about being with another person.
If you’re struggling with fear or insecurity in yourself and/or in your relationship, it’s time to get to the bottom of that fear. It’s time to contend with it. There are certain treatments or methods you can use to help get through such fears, overcome them, and begin creating a life you love.
A great first step is to visit Codependents Anonymous. This is a support group that offers a lot of information that can help you learn more about codependency and codependent behaviors and begin working on healing the underlying issues. There are groups in the community as well as online.
When I first learned about codependency, I went to some of these support group meetings, and they were extremely helpful. The first thing that struck me was that I felt less alone in trying to contend with these things. And their stories and support really helped me begin to carve my own pathway toward healing emotionally and learning what a healthy relationship is comprised of.
You do not have to be stuck in a toxic relationship or suffer from codependent characteristics any longer. Know that help is available and reach out.
If you would like to learn more about how you can overcome fear in your relationship or codependency characteristics, check out these valuable resources:
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