Compulsive behaviour is not only about sex, chems and the internet, it’s also about losing yourself obsessively in another person, a relationship or the workplace. Codependency, the core of all destructive behaviors, has many differing explanations – here’s one by Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse of Nurturing Networks in Ohio USA, she wrote this in 1988 and it still stands today: “Co-dependency is a dis-ease. It is a specific condition characterized by preoccupation and extreme dependence on another person (emotionally, socially and sometimes physically), or on a substance (such as alcohol, drugs, nicotine and sugar), or on a behaviour (such as workaholicism, gambling, compulsive sexual acting out). This dependence, nurtured over a long period of time, becomes a pathological condition that effects the co-dependent IN ALL OTHER RELATIONSHIPS.”
I put the last bit in caps because extreme dependency on anything, will effect up to 20 people in your life, like a ripple in a pond. Often seen as a caring persons malady, in the early 80s the Codependent was described by treatment centres as the partner, friend, employer or family member who, “cared too much,” spending time and energy trying to change the addict, gambler, sex addict, alcoholic, etc’s, behaviour. By rescuing “too much” they enabled the user to continue the acting out and lost themselves in the process, so when the addict recovered and got well, the people who tried to help were not always as pleased. Instead they often became resentful, like a mother seeing her kids leave home, losing her identity. Many gay men experience this in relationships, constantly rescuing, parenting and babysitting someone who is not ready to listen, grow up or refuse to see the damage to body, mind and purse. Codependents often pick up the pieces, silently, in order not to rock the boat.
The propensity to act out codependently is within all of us, so don’t think it’s just about people in dysfunctional relationships. Everyone acts out fear, control and modes of survival, so you don’t have to have a drunk partner to rescue to escape this emotional distress. It’s a complex subject but I believe that if each person concentrated on giving themselves as much love, concern and focus to themselves as they do to others, the world would spin on its high energy axis. Suddenly people would learn to parent themselves as well as assisting others to do the same. This is the balanced way of living. A solution to codependency or the addiction of attachment is the understanding of boundaries and what I call speed-bumping. No not up the nose, you understand, but a slowing down of compulsive behaviour. Here is an example. You’re waiting for your flight at the airport and you find the retail area – within 10 mins you have bought 6 items to pass the time and feel good about this temporary fix. Others sit with a laptop or smartphone and download in exactly the same manner, when there is no reason to. It’a a habit. We have not been trained to sit with ourselves and do nothing, so we become dependent (co-dependent) on something outside of ourselves to make us feel complete. Some make themselves over-responsible for those around them, while others become human ambulances whenever they are needed. You know who they are.
Learning to slow down, examine and say NO more often are the golden rules in establishing boundaries. If you are a people pleaser this will be difficult, however it is essential in maintaining healthier relationships with lovers, friends, dates, family and co-workers. Esteem is raised when you learn to say No without guilt, when you learn to respond gently rather than react, and the result breeds healthy separations. Consider where you could put bounderies up and ask yourself what ‘normal living’ is for you. Learn to ‘speedbump’ each day, be conscious of each action you make, slow down and refind yourself. Spend at least 2 night in alone, if you can, even in a present relationship and allow it to breathe. DO NOT spend every night with your BF in the first 3 months and for gods sake STOP TEXTING 30 times a day to each other. Ask yourself why you do that? Is it insecurity, control or is just automatic with no purpose. If you do have a partner who is heavily addicted seek help for yourself – not him. Experience has proved that once YOU stop playing the game by doing the opposite to what you normally do, games change.
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