by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© December 2013, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
Co-dependency refers to a common and unhealthy addictive quality of some relationships. A relationship is said to be co-dependent when the parties need or use each other to lean on, so to speak, rather than to enrich each other’s lives. One could call it “mutual use” instead of a love-based relationship.
Co-dependency affects millions of people worldwide. It is not a black-or-white situation, in that some relationships have some co-dependent qualities and some healthy qualities at the same time.
Co-dependency is a type of addictive situation. When a similar situation occurs with an object, such as cigarettes, it is called addiction. Co-dependency and addiction are very similar, only with co-dependency it involves a sort of addiction to a person in some way, or to a relationship.
CO-DEPENDENCY AND THE FAMILY
Many families develop or are even based on co-dependent relationships. This occurs for many reasons, such as living closely together, bringing up each other’s issues, having children when one is immature or not ready, and sexual and intimacy issues that naturally arise in families.
So families must beware and watch for the signs of co-dependency, because it definitely takes the love and joy out of family life.
PSYCHOLOGY OF CO-DEPENDENCY AND ADDICTION
In co-dependency and other addictions, someone or something seems attractive because he, she or it makes you feel better. However, in reality it is not healthy for you, and usually your energy is being drained by it. However, it causes a temporary ‘high’ in some way, so that you are not aware of the unhealthy nature of the relationship.
In the area of relationships, another person comes along, and can appear to “make you whole” or complete you. While this can happen to a degree, it usually leads to a co-dependent relationship. It is much better if you are not “missing anything”, and you can enter relationships for the purpose of spreading love, and not out of need, which often results in co-dependency.
WHAT KIND OF NEEDS CAN CAUSE A CO-DEPENDENT RELATIONSHIP?
The answer is that any type of need can do it. Among the most common ones are a need for companionship or distraction, a need for sex or “love”, a need for financial support and protection, a need for a housekeeper, cook, maid, or even just a need for someone to keep you from feeling lonely.
Of course, the above are the most common reasons people start relationships. However, for a relationship to be the best, one must overcome the need part and focus more on loving the other person. Otherwise, what seems like love underneath is just fear of rejection or loss. This is not the same as acting from love. Acting from love means that one does what is best for oneself and one’s partner. Acting from fear may not be nearly alike, and often hurts the partner in the long run, although it may not appear that way at first.
Anything that weakens you will predispose you to addiction and co-dependency. This is why alcohol and cigarettes are such a problem. They weaken the body, increasing the need for the addictive substance.
Similarly, relationships that weaken a person in certain ways will result in a co-dependent relationship. Examples may include becoming involved with a person who is too powerful or controlling, violent, needy, too nice, unpredictable, or something else.
Usually, the person has other qualities that are quite attractive, so one becomes involved with the person. However, the negative qualities damage you and weaken you at the same time. Eventually, you realize that no matter how good the sex, or how much money the person gives you, or how sweet the person is, something is not right because you feel weaker or unhappy around the person.
The psychology is similar to that of addiction. The other person, or the relationship itself, results in a temporary 'high’. You may feel superior, or their behavior causes the adrenaline to flow for a time. However, at the same time it weakens you. To compensate for the weakness, you find yourself going back to the person for another ‘high’ or ‘fix’.
This is the essence of addictive and co-dependent relationships. Just like cigarette smoking, you usually have to repeat the behavior until you become sick or depressed enough to realize that the relationship is unhealthy and sickness-producing. For more on this, read Addiction on this site.
SEXUAL ASPECTS AND VAMPIRISM
An interesting aspect of co-dependency occurs between men and women when sex takes a high priority in a relationship and when the woman tends to take the lead in a relationship. This certainly does not mean that women are less important or should not participate as fully, but there is a concept in the bible and in ancient Oriental science that the male should lead and guide. This has to do with men’s generally better logical mind and with women’s nature to enjoy going along and following a good man. It is not about the superiority of man or woman, just understanding their nature and what really makes most of them happy.
So while there are exceptions, the sexual order can matter, and if it is reversed, the relationship can easily turn into a co-dependent one. That is the importance of this idea. A future article will discuss this interesting topic in detail.
UNHEALTHY GROUP RELATIONSHIPS
Co-dependency can help explain phenomena such as Naziism, the appeal of cults and phony religions, and much more.
We depend wholly upon our Creator for life and sustenance. That is a healthy and proper understanding. If one breaks the Second Commandment, which almost everyone does at some time, one substitutes a lesser god for the One God. (The Second Commandment states "Thou shalt not have any other gods before me"). See the article entitled The Ten Commandments for more on this interesting idea.
One may substitute cigarettes, or another person, or money, and these become one’s God. That is, one believes one 'needs' the item or person, that happiness or success depends upon it. One becomes 'committed' to the lesser God. This is the essence of the co-dependent or addictive relationship. It is worshipping a false god. It is always a lie and eventually always leads to unhappiness or worse. Here are some reasons why people worship false gods.
1) The love
of the true Creator has somehow become associated with pain. This could have come from childhood
experiences, a religious upbringing with a belief in a vengeful God, or at
times is the result of deliberate efforts by some adult earlier in your life to
sever your relationship with your Creator.
Children's innocence, which is related to their trust in God, is very embarrassing and irritating to many parents, teachers, and even preachers. Many adults will go out of their way to destroy the child's trust and faith in God, or make it seem like God is the source of all their unhappiness and pain.
Many people contend with these problems. Secretly, the parents and teachers feel guilty because they had their relationship with God severed years before. Just the presence of the innocent and trusting child reminds them of their pain and their guilt. Therefore they are often unconsciously compelled to do whatever they can to destroy the source of their embarrassment and guilt - you, the trusting child.
2) The proud ego does not like the fact that it is in a dependent relationship with the Creator. So it blocks it from consciousness. However, we cannot exist alone, so the ego then has to find false gods as substitutes for the real thing. This is a form of ego stubbornness.
people choose to block the love of the Creator out of their life. They choose separation from God. This is a choice, one that we have all
made in the past. It has afforded
us all kinds of interesting experiences.
For many people, the time for separation is over. We know this because our relationships based upon separation become very painful. These are the 'special relationships' spoken of in A Course in Miracles and other spiritually oriented books.
These relationships are brought to us so we will finally make the decision to choose oneness with the Creator, and to accept the Creator back as our primary relationship. Unhealthy relationships can thus serve an important purpose to wake us up.
OPPRESSOR AND OPPRESSED IN CO-DEPENDENT RELATIONSHIPS
A common type of co-dependent relationship involves one person who acts as oppressor, while the other acts as the victim or the oppressed one. Basically, the two people involved are not equal in power. This can occur between a man and a woman, between a parent and a child, or any two or even more than two people. The oppression can be physical, sexual, intellectual, emotional, or other.
A key to ending this kind of co-dependent relationship is that through a nutritional balancing program, or other means such as counseling, attitudes must change and one must give up the familiar role to change the relationship.
is Love? The first thing
to heal co-dependency is to understand the discussion above. This can help anyone to understand the
situation and not to deny a problem, usually by calling it something it is not
Co-dependency, like addiction, is always associated with denial. Many people 'love' others the way they love cigarettes, beer or television programs. This is not love, but attachment, addiction and co-dependency.
Another fundamental principle is that love is not a feeling. Love is an attitude that hopefully you can display toward everyone, not just toward your wife or husband, for example, or your child as opposed to someone else’s child. People too often associate sexual pleasure, or comfort, or safety and security with “love”. However, they are not the same!
For example, if a cigarette, glass of wine, petting your cat, or an encounter with your sexual partner produces feelings, people often say they are "in love with it". But this is not the love of the Creator, or love at all. It is just body feelings, which are nothing but physiological responses to stimuli. One knows it is not the love of the Creator, because it begins and ends in time. Then one needs another cigarette, more wine, more sex or whatever. The love of the Creator is more subtle, but always present.
It is necessary to be brutally honest about what love is, and what it is not. The popular songs and movies are wrong. They perpetuate your confusion. There is nothing wrong with wine, cats or sex, unless you elevate them to something they are not - love - and attempt to substitute them for the real thing.
Back Your Power. Another
aspect of healing co-dependency is to take back your own power, or the power of
God as it flows through you, from your false god or gods. This has to do with self-esteem and
Decide that you are worthy of the Creator's love because it is the truth, no matter what you have done or haven’t done in your life. If it were not true, you wouldn't be alive as we are all dependent on this type of love.
third principle to heal co-dependency is you must be willing to receive the
love of the Creator. Most
people become so used to giving power away that it feels natural.
Taking power back can bring up thoughts that you will abuse it, or you don’t deserve it, or it isn’t nice, so taking back your power can feel unnatural. It requires getting used to it.
Another principle of healing is to know that your real personality, which may take a while to develop, will not hurt anyone.
One more principle of healing is that your truly wonderful and valuable personality characteristics will remain intact if your identity shifts, even if it shifts drastically. The only aspects that will be lost will be the phony ones that you are clinging to, or that others have imprinted upon you but that are not the real you.
When you heal a co-dependent relationship, usually by ending it, you may go through an identity crisis. Be prepared to see and become who you really are. Maybe you won't be the cute, innocent, docile creature you think you are. This has to be okay with you. Better to be genuine. Many, many people have terrible fears that if they say what is on their mind, if they behave like they feel like behaving toward another, if they dropped their 'props' and phony mannerisms, they will be rejected and scorned by their partners or by the world. It is not so!!! Real people will respect you more, and like you more. The only ones who will not like are the other co-dependent types, who are themselves putting on an act and do not want you to break their spell - often the spell they have over you.
Be real and stay real! You can always apologize later if you do something really outrageous. Your real friends will forgive you, and in the process you will find out who are your real friends. This in itself is very valuable, especially if you are considering living with someone, or marrying someone.
Healing the separation from God comes about when you desire it and allow it. Until then, the ego is still having a good time acting out its dramas, which is really its illusory separation from God. It will not want to stop, as this will mean the destruction or dissolution of the ego self. It wants to survive. A time must come when you thank the ego for all the drama or entertainment it has provided to you, and all the rich and varied experiences it has made, but explain that you are ready to move on to a better life.
that wounds from the past will come up for review if you desire healing. Do your best to observe them without
The role of nutritional balancing to help end co-dependent relationships. It is extremely helpful and sometimes absolutely necessary to strengthen and balance the mind and the body with a nutritional balancing program in order to end a co-dependent relationship. We hear this feedback from many, many clients who were in unhappy marriages, or other unhappy relationships.
The reasons for this include that the program provides more physical strength and stamina needed to go out on one’s own. It also tends to bring much more clarity of mind, and this is also necessary to take risks, live on one’s own, enter new relationships, and to deeply understand the relationships one is in currently.
The program can also bring up and heal deep traumas from the past that may have given rise to the co-dependent relationships.
Counseling. A coach who understands this entire
article is also helpful and necessary at times. It can be a professional counselor, friend, family member or
even a pastor or other spiritual counselor. These resources help reconnect you
to your Creator and your true self.