Written by Candace Andrews, LADC |
Codependency is many things. It is a dependency on people – on their moods, behaviors, sickness or wellbeing and their love. It is a paradoxical dependency. Codependents appear to be depended upon, but they are dependent. They look strong but feel helpless, appear controlling but in reality are controlled themselves, sometimes by an illness such as alcoholism. These are the issues that dictate recovery.
Major characteristics of codependents are exhibited within the following categories: caretaking; low self-worth; repression; obsession; controlling; living in denial; depending on others; poor, effective communication; unable to establish strong boundaries; lack of trust; and anger.
With 19 million Americans suffering from depression, either perpetuating or stemming from codependency, it is important to be aware and reflect upon our own behavior.
Many professionals say the first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance. With that in mind, let’s examine the characteristics of codependency – take this test to see if you take on a codependent likeness:
1. Yes No I am in a significant relationship with someone who is addicted to a substance or a behavior, or someone who is depressed.
2. Yes No I feel responsible for almost everybody and everything, but I feel guilty much of the time.
3. Yes No I can’t say “no” without feeling guilty.
4. Yes No I can accurately “read” other people by analyzing their facial expressions and tone of voice.
5. Yes No I try very hard to please people, but I seldom feel that I measure up.
6. Yes No I feel that I have to protect people, especially the addicted or depressed person in my life.
7. Yes No I live in such a way that no one can ever say I’m selfish.
8. Yes No I vacillate between defending the irresponsible person and blowing up in anger at him or her.
9. Yes No I often relive situations and conversations to see if I can think of some way I could have done or spoken better.
10. Yes No I feel overly frightened of angry people.
11. Yes No I am terribly offended by personal criticism.
12. Yes No To avoid feeling guilt and shame, I seldom stand up to people who disagree with me.
13. Yes No I tend to see people and situations as “all good” or “all bad.”
14. Yes No Though I try to please people, I often feel isolated and alone.
15. Yes No I trust people too much or not at all.
16. Yes No I often try to get people I love to change their attitudes and behavior.
17. Yes No I tend to believe the addicted or depressed person’s promises, even if he or she has broken countless promises before.
18. Yes No Sometimes I have a lot of energy to help people, but sometimes I feel drained, depressed and ambivalent.
19. Yes No I often give advice, even when it isn’t requested.
20. Yes No I tend to confuse love with pity, and I tend to love those who need me to rescue them from their problems.
21. Yes No I believe I can’t be happy unless others, especially the needy people in my life, are happy.
22. Yes No I am often a victim in strained and broken relationships.
23. Yes No I am defensive when someone points out my faults.
24. Yes No My thoughts are often consumed with the troubles and needs of the addicted or depressed person in my life.
25. Yes No I feel wonderful when I can fix others’ problems, but I feel terrible when I can’t.
If you answered “yes” to 5 or fewer statements, you have relatively healthy boundaries, confidence and wisdom in relationships.
If you answered “yes” to 6–12 statements, your life is shaped to a significant degree by the demands of needy people in your life. You often feel responsible for the choices others make, and you try too hard to help them make the right ones. You would benefit from the input of a competent counselor or support group.
If you answered “yes” to 13 or more statements, you have lost your sense of identity, and you are consumed by the problems of addicted or depressed people in your life. You have to take steps to get well whether that person does or not. Find a counselor or support group to help you gain wisdom and strength.
3. Beattie, Melody. Codependent No More. Hazelden, 2nd edition 1992.
For more info, contact Candace Andrews, Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor with Alliance DUI School and Counseling at (775) 677-2612.