I met with a friend one day and for some reason, we started talking about codependency, a subject I recognized
from weeding it out of my own life. It took a long time to open myself enough to see the condition in my past. Its presence surprised me, especially in so
me relationships. Codependency often appears in homeless hearts simply because the two conditions have similar roots. In writing Homeless Hearts, I had to look at the malady again and ask honestly whether I still had those tendencies.
Until 1979, no one ever used the words codependency or codependent. Today, people know the terms well. I’m not so sure we fully understand them. I’m not a psychologist, so what I know of codependency comes from personal experience and reading. I’m not sure when it started in my life or exactly why even. That’s the sad part of this condition. Most of those living under this curse don’t realize we’re in the thick of it. Looking back, I see it clearly now in past relationships.
A fine line exists between healthy interdependence and unhealthy codependency.
When one person controls and/or manipulates another person on a daily basis that’s a huge red flag. Interestingly enough, while one person needs to control others, the other person desires to be controlled.
What? Yep. You read that right. But why would I ever want someone to control me?
It’s not a conscious decision. But think about it. If I am emotionally healthy, when another person tries to control my life, how do I react? I stand up and pull the power rug out from under him or her, or I leave that relationship. But if I am also codependent, then deep inside, I can’t walk away because I need someone in control of me, even if I don’t realize it. There is rarely a codependent relationship where one person suffers from codependency, but the other doesn’t. The one who doesn’t won’t stay in such an emotionally unstable environment for long.
“Frequently, both parties house some degree of unhealthy dependence beyond normal relationships and in effect become addicted to what they gain from each other. Both feed the inner beast of dependency, neither realizing the long-term effects of the intoxicating reliance. Over time, as with any addiction, the need grows stronger and they dig deeper into each other until one tires of unrealistic demands and wants to break free.” (From work in progress, Homeless Hearts.)
If you’re in any codependent relationship, you can change.
That’s the good news. It isn’t easy. But freedom in this area breaks chains and helps release a brilliant future. It’s worth the work.
Suggested reading: Boundaries, by Townsend and Cloud.